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Open PhD project: Greenhouse Gas Budgets at the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO)

Open PhD project: Greenhouse Gas Budgets at the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO)

Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena logo

Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena

The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry is dedicated to the study of global cycles of essential elements on Earth, their interactions among the biosphere, atmosphere, geosphere and the oceans, and their interrelation with the physical climate system.

The institute was founded in 1997 by the Max Planck Society as the third Max Planck Institute in Jena. In 2003, the institute moved into its new building on the Beutenberg Campus. The Science Campus is home to several academic and for-profit research institutions and offers together with the Friedrich-Schiller University Jena excellent potential for local scientific collaborations.

Biogeochemical research is highly interdisciplinary and international. Scientists from all over the world are attracted to our institute and our research is often conducted in remote and exotic locations worldwide.


Jena, Germany


Relevant divisions
Atmospheric Sciences (AS)
Biogeosciences (BG)
Geosciences Instrumentation and Data Systems (GI)

Full time

Student / Graduate / Internship

PhD researchers receive either a scholarship (1,200 EUR for 4 years) which is free of tax and social insurance or a support contract (about 1600 EUR for 3 years).

Preferred education

Application deadline
27 August 2019

5 July 2019

Job description

In cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry houses a unique and flexible research program that grants German and foreign students a broad selection of learning opportunities while still maintaining a research focus.
The IMPRS-gBGC offers a PhD program specializing in global biogeochemistry and related Earth system sciences. The overall research and teaching focuses on:

  • Improved understanding of biogeochemical processes with an emphasis on terrestrial ecosystems
  • Development of observational techniques to monitor and assess biogeochemical feedbacks in the Earth system
  • Theory and model development for improving the representation of biogeochemical processes in comprehensive Earth system models

Project description:
The Amazon plays a large role in the global biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases (GHGs) – e.g., variations in carbon fluxes in tropical land areas are a major driver of interannual variations in the global atmospheric CO 2 growth rate. Other important GHGs, methane (CH 4 ) and nitrous oxide (N 2 O) have large natural sources in the Amazon’s wetlands and soils, as well as from biomass burning. Long-term continuous atmospheric observations of GHGs and other biogeochemical trace gases at the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO project), located in a protected rain forest region in the central Amazon Basin, are already providing valuable data for regional estimates of GHG dynamics. The addition of new atmospheric concentration and stable isotopic composition gradient measurements from near surface up to 321 m a.g.l., will provide new insights into land-atmosphere exchange at spatial scales of meters and up to hundreds of kilometers. It will allow the attribution of fluxes to different source and sink processes, as well as provide information on atmospheric dynamics and mixing, including the location of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. In order to address the above research questions, the successful candidate will work with presently available data (CO 2 /CH 4 /CO data collected since 2012) and with data from the new CO 2 , 13 CO 2 , CO, N 2 O, CH~4~, delta 13 C-CO 2 /CH 4 measurement systems (FTIR, CRDS) to be installed in late 2019/early 2020, which s/he will also be responsible for.

Working group & planned collaborations
The successful candidate will integrate the Tall Tower Atmospheric Gas Measurements group at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC). The candidate’s work will be closely related to that of several other work groups of the ATTO project consortium; in particular, s/he will collaborate with colleagues from MPI-BGC, MPI-C and the University of Bremen (Germany), and INPA, INPE and EMBRAPA-Belem (Brazil).

How to apply

Applications to the IMPRS-gBGC are open to motivated and qualified students from all countries. Prerequisites for this PhD project are:

  • a Master’s degree in atmospheric science, meteorology, bio(geo)chemistry or other disciplines related to environmental sciences
  • Experience in scientific programming and handling of large data sets
  • Knowledge on stable isotopes and land-atmosphere interactions are an advantage
  • Hands-on experience with scientific measurement equipment
  • Interest in occasional field work at remote locations
  • Self-driven personality able to work both independently and in a team
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English, knowledge of German and/or Portuguese is an asset
  • Motivation to present results at scientific meetings and publish them in scientific journals

The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals.