Job advertisement Open PhD project: Changes in global vegetation

EGU logo

European Geosciences Union

Open PhD project: Changes in global vegetation

Open PhD project: Changes in global vegetation

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
Biogeosciences (BG)
Climate: Past, Present & Future (CL)
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 1,600 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:
Understanding what control the changes in different vegetation carbon compartments and how these changes influence, or are influenced by, carbon and water fluxes is fundamental to comprehend the biosphere-atmosphere interactions. In fact, this understanding is critical to predict and constrain the changes in carbon cycle under future global changes. In order to realize such vegetation-related dynamics, for a given primary productivity, it is imperative to focus on processes that control both metabolic activity (such as respiratory fluxes and allocation dynamics), as well as the impacts of biotic and abiotic factors on vegetation mortality. Based on site-level observations and retrievals of global biomass patterns, this PhD research aims at providing a description of the links between ecosystem carbon fluxes and changes in vegetation carbon states. In particular, the research will bring together different observational data streams and a modular modeling framework to explore alternative and/or novel formulations that describe vegetation processes and ecosystem responses to spatiotemporal changes in environmental conditions. The PhD project is embedded in a joint initiative of the Global Diagnostic Modelling and the Model-Data-Fusion groups in the Department of Biogeochemical Integration at the MPI-BGC. Overall, this project will contribute to a better understanding of the role of vegetation dynamics in the global carbon cycle and in the Earth system.

How to apply

Online applications for the program are open to well-motivated and highly-qualified candidates from all countries. A prerequisite is a diploma or master of science degree in geophysical sciences, environmental sciences, biological sciences, physics, chemistry, computer sciences or related fields, including a corresponding thesis. Proficiency in English is required since English is the official language of the program.

The successful candidate will work in close collaboration with national and international research teams. Applications to the IMPRS-gBGC are open to motivated and qualified students from all countries. Prerequisites for this PhD project are:

  • a Masters (or equivalent) in geoecology, ecology, geography, biology, environmental sciences, environmental informatics, or any related area is required for this position.
  • Basic knowledge in any of these fields: plant physiology, ecosystem ecology, global biogeography.
  • Experience in statistical analyses of environmental data and modeling.
  • Programming skills in a data analysis language such as MATLAB, Python, Julia or R.
  • Basic knowledge of programming in Unix environments is a plus.

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.