This is an archived project page.

GREENCYCLES Biogeochemistry and Climate Change Research and Training Network


Sönke Zaehle

Current Address:
Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry
P.O. Box 10 01 64, 07701 Jena

Phone: +49 (0)3641.57.63.25
+49 (0)3641 57.72.00
szaehle -at-

Former Postal Address as ER1:
Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE)
Orme des Merisiers - Bâtiment 712
91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France

current research | curriculum vitae | publications | carrer development plan (internal)

ER1 Research Project: Terrestrial ecosystem processes and global feedbacks

Large potential feedbacks exist between future climate warming and the global carbon cycle. However, these feedbacks critically depend on terrestrial processes that are poorly understood and thus only weakly (if at all) represented in so called 'Earth System Models'. The key objective of this research is to advance our understanding of these critical processes and so better quantify carbon-climate feedbacks on the global scale. This will be achieved by integrating the latest understanding in climatic, hydrologic and edaphic controls on land-atmosphere carbon fluxes, obtained from analysis of intensive field and laboratory data, into novel parameterisations for the ORCHIDEE dynamic global vegetation model. This model is a component of the coupled IPSL GCM, and is used to study possible feedbacks between climate and land surface processes.

Particular emphasis of the project has been placed on the representation of the coupled N cycle in ORCHIDEE, and its impact on vegetation processes (especially fluxes of carbon). Additionally, representations of the interactions between soil moisture, phenology, and vegetation physiology have been tested, drawing on close collaboration with the Greencycles partner CREAF (Barcelona, Spain). Collaborations have been established with the Hadley Centre, UK, University of Lund, Sweden, and the University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic, in order to integrate understanding from experimental work into ecosystem models.

This project (ER 1) contributes to the science objective 1 (Quantify feedbacks in the global carbon cycle) of GREENCYCLES and has links to the projects of Marcin (ESR X), Raquel (ESR I), Roxanna (ESR IX), Sarah (ESR VII) and Trevor (ESRVIII).

Current Research: Marie Curie Reintegration Grant (ERG) JULIA "Joining ecophysiological Understanding and global ecosystem modelling for improved simulation of Land surface Interactions with the Atmosphere" at the MPI-BGC, Jena, Germany.

Curriculum Vitae

since 08/2008 Research Scientist at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, DE
08/2005 - 07/2008 Experienced Researcher (PostDoc) at the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement in Gif sur Yvette, FR, within the GREENCYCLES MC-RTN
04/2005 - 07/2005 Researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, DE
09/2001 - 04/2005 PhD-student at the University of Potsdam / Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam DE
09/2000 - 08/2001 MSc-Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.
10/1997 - 09/2000 Study of Geoecology at the Technische Universität Braunschweig, Braunschweig, DE.



Ciais, P. Schelhaas, M.J, Zaehle., S., Piao, S.L, Cescatti, A., Liski, J., Luyssaert, S., Le-Maire, G., Schulze, E.-D., Bouriaud, O., Freibauer, A., Valentini, R., Nabuurs, G.J. (2008): Carbon accumulation in European forests, Nature - Geosciences 1 425 - 429. abstract

Eggers, J., Lindner, M., Zudin, S., Zaehle, S., Liski, J. (2008, online early): Impact of changing wood demand, climate and land use on European forest resources and carbon stocks during the 21st century, Global Change Biology, abstract

Vetter, M. G. Churkina, M. Jung, M. Reichstein, S. Zaehle, A. Bondeau, Y. Chen, P. Ciais, F. Feser, A. Freibauer, R. Geyer, C. Jones, D. Papale, J. Tenhunen, E. Tomelleri, K. Trusilova, N. Viovy, M. Heimann (2008): Analyzing the causes and spatial pattern of the European 2003 carbon flux anomaly in Europe using seven models, Biogeosciences 5 561-583. abstract

Wramneby, A., Smith, B. Zaehle, S. Sykes, M.T. (2008): Parameter uncertainties in the modelling of vegetation dynamics – effects on tree community structure and ecosystem functioning in European forest biomes, Ecological Modelling, 216 (3-4), 277-290, abstract


Bondeau, A., Smith, P.C., Zaehle, S., Schaphoff, S., Lucht,W., Cramer, W., Gerten, D., Lotze-Campen, H., Müller, C., Reichstein, M., Smith, B. (2007): Modelling the role of agriculture for the 20th century global terrestrial carbon balance, Global Change Biology, 13 (3) 679-706. abstract

Ciais, P., Manning, A.C., Reichstein, M., Zaehle, S., Bopp L. (2007): Nitrification amplifies the decreasing trends of atmosphericoxygen and implies a larger land carbon uptake, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 21(2) GB2030, abstract

Friend, A.D., Arneth, A., Kiang, N.Y., Lomas, M., Ogée, J., Rödenbeck, C., Running, S.W., Santaren, D., Sitch, S., Viovy, N., Woodward, F.I., Zaehle, S. (2007): Fluxnet and modelling the global carbon cycle, Global Change Biology, 13 (3) 610-633. abstract

Jung, M., Le Maire, G., Zaehle, S., Luyssaert, S., Vetter, M., Churkina, G., Ciais, P., Viovy, N., Reichstein, M. (2007): Assessing the ability of three land ecosystem models to simulate gross carbon uptake of forests from boreal to Mediterranean climate in Europe, Biogeosciences, 4, 647-656. abstract

Jung, M., Vetter, M., Herold, M., Churkina, G., Reichstein, M., Zaehle, S., Cias, P., Viovy, N., Bondeau, A., Chen, Y., Trusilova, K., Feser, F., Heimann, M. (in press), Uncertainties of modelling GPP over Europe: A systematic study on the effects of using different drivers and terrestrial biosphere models, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 21, GB4021, doi:10.1029/2006GB002915, abstract

Müller, C., Eickhout, B., Zaehle, S., Bondeau, A., Cramer, W., Lucht, W. (2007): Effects of changes in CO2, climate and land use on the carbon balance of the land biosphere during the 21st century, Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeoscience, 112, G02032. abstract

Piao, S., Friedlingstein, P., Ciais, P., de Noblet-Ducoudré, N., Labat, D., Zaehle , S. (2007), Changes in climate and land use have a larger direct impact than rising CO2 on global river runoff trends, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104 (39), 15242-15247. abstract

Seguin, B., Arrouays D., Balesdent, J., Soussana, J.-F., Bondeau, A., Smith, P.C., Zaehle, S., de Noblet, N., Viovy, N. (2007): Moderating the impact of agriculture on climate, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 142: 278-287. abstract

Smith, P., Chapman, S., Scott, W., Black, H., Wattenbach, M., Milne, R., Campbell, C., Lilly, A., Ostle N., Levy, P., Lumsdon, D., Millard, P., Towers, W., Zaehle, S., Smith, J. (2007), Climate change cannot be entirely responsible for soil carbon loss observed in England and Wales, 1978-2003, Global Change Biology, 13 (12) 2605-2609. abstract

Zaehle, S., Bondeau, A., Carter, T., Cramer, W., Erhard, M., Prentice, I.C., Reginster, I., Rounsevell, M.D.A., Sitch, S., Smith, B., Smith, P.C., Sykes, M. (2007): Projected changes in terrestrial carbon storage in Europe under climate and land-use change, 1990-2100, Ecosystems, doi: 10.1007/s10021-007-9028-9. abstract


Hickler, T., Prentice, I.C., Smith, B., Sykes, M.T., Zaehle, S. (2006): Implementing plant hydraulic architecture within the LPJ dynamic global vegetation model, Global Ecology and Biogeography 15 (6): 567-577. abstract

Smith, P., Smith, J., Wattenbach, M., Meyer, M., Lindner, M., Zaehle, S., Hiederer, R., Jones, R., Montanarella, L., Rounsevell, M., Reginster, I. (2006): Projected changes in mineral soil carbon of European forests, 1990-2100, Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 86 (2) 159-169. abstract

Zaehle, S., Sitch, S., Prentice, C., Liski, J., Cramer, W., Erhard, M., Hickler, T., Smith, B. (2006): The importance of age-related decline in forest NPP for modeling regional carbon balances, Ecological Applications 16(4) 1555-1574. abstract


Gerten, D., Hoff, H., Bondeau, A., Lucht, W., Smith, P., Zaehle, S. (2005): Contemporary "green" water flows: Simulations with a dynamic global vegetation and water balance model, Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 30 (6-7) 334-338. abstract

Schröter D., Cramer W., Leemans R., Prentice I.C., Araújo M.B., Arnell N.W., Bondeau A., Bugmann H., Carter T.R., Garcia C.A., de la Vega-Leinert A.C., Erhard M., Ewert F., Glendining M., House J.I., Kankaanpää S., Klein R.J.T., Lavorel S., Lindner M., Metzger M.J., Meyer J., Mitchell T.D., Reginster I., Rounsevell M., Sabaté S., Sitch S., Smith B., Smith J., Smith P., Sykes M.T., Thonicke K., Thuiller W., Tuck G., Zaehle S., Zierl B. (2005): Ecosystem Service Supply and Vulnerability to Global Change in Europe. Science, 310 (5752) 1333-1337. abstract

Smith, J., Smith, P., Wattenbach, M., Zaehle, S., Hiederer, R., Jones, R., Montarella, L., Rounsevell, M., Reginster, I., Ewert, F. (2005): Projected changes in mineral soil carbon of European croplands and grasslands, 1990-2080. Global Change Biology, 11 (12) 2141-2152. abstract

Zaehle, S., Sitch, S., Smith, B., Hattermann, F. (2005): Effects of parameter uncertainties on the modeling of terrestrial biosphere dynamics, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 19 GB3020, doi:10.1029/2004GB002395. abstract

Zaehle, S. (2005): Effect of height on tree hydraulic conductance incompletely compensated by xylem tapering, Functional Ecology, 19(2) 359-364. abstract

Selected non peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, reports, conferences contributions etc. ...

Zaehle, S., Friend, AD., Friedlingstein, P., Schulz, M. (2008) Modelling ecosystem nitrogen dynamics to simulate historical and future terrestrial greenhouse gas budgets, Geophysical Research Abstracts, 10: 6373. abstract

García, R., Keenan, T., Zaehle, S., Friend, A., Gracia, C., Sabaté, S. (2008) Ecophysiological responses to drought in Mediterranean forest ecosystems: data analysis and the evaluation of model predictions in drought prone environments, Geophysical Research Abstracts, 10: 6420. abstract

Eggers J, Lindner M, Zudin S, Zaehle S, Liski J, Nabuurs G-J (2007) Forestry in Europe under changing climate and land use. In Forestry & Climate Change (eds Freer-Smith PH, Broadmeadow MSJ, Lynch JM), pp. 112-118. CABI, UK. preface

Stephens, N., Zaehle, S., Poulter, B. (2007), Improving our understanding of Earth system processes within the GREENCYCLES European training network, Eos Trans. AGU, 88(38), 372. online material

Watrin, J., Friend, A.D., Zaehle, S., Lézine, A.-M. (2007): Modelling vegetation dynamics in West Africa during the Holocene and links to in situ proxy data, Geophysical Research Abstracts, 9: 8985. abstract

Zaehle, S., Friedlingstein, P., Bopp, L., Cadule, P (2007): A first estimate of the feedback between climate change and atmospheric nitrous oxide concentration, Geophysical Research Abstracts, 9: 7937. abstract

Zaehle, S., Friend, A. (2006): The role of nitrogen in terrestrial biosphere responses to climate change and CO2 increase, Geophysical Research Abstracts, 8: 8345. abstract

Zaehle, S., Sitch, S., Liski, J., Erhard, M. (2006): Combining land-use statistics with process-based modeling to estimate the European forest carbon balance, Geophysical Research Abstracts, 8: 7712. abstract

Churkina, G., Vetter, M., Heimann, M., Rödenbeck, C., and the CarboEurope Integration Team (2006): European carbon balance and its constituent fluxes in 1980-2003: Analysis using bottom-up and top-down estimates, Geophysical Research Abstracts, 8: 7076. abstract

Zaehle, S. (2005): Process-based simulation of the terrestrial biosphere : an evaluation of present-day and future terrestrial carbon balance estimates and their uncertainty. PhD-thesis, 193 pp. (URN:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus-5263), Universität Potsdam, Potsdam, DE. abstract | full-text

Zaehle, S., Bondeau, A., Smith, P., Sitch, S., Schröter, D., Erhard, M. Cramer, W. (2004): Europe's terrestrial carbon sink may last until 2050 and then decline, Geophysical Research Abstracts, 6: 3808. abstract

Lindner, M., Lucht, W., Bouriaud, O., Green, T., Janssens, I. (ed., 2004): Specific Study on Forest Greenhouse Gas Budget. Discussion paper as contribution to the Concerted Action CarboEurope-GHG. download

Schröter, D. and ATEAM members (2004): The ATEAM final report 2004 – Detailed report related to overall project duration. Advanced Terrestrial Ecosystem Analysis and Modelling, a project funded under the 5th framework Programme of the European Union, pp. 139. download

Zaehle, S. (2001): Assessing the impact of ENSO on agriculture: A northern Vietnam case study on rice production. Master Thesis, 65pp., University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. (copy available on request)