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Bayi Glacier in Qilian Mountain, China (Credit: Xiaoming Wang, distributed via

Job advertisement Reveal carbon dynamics of a Mediterranean savanna ecosystem by utilizing long-term observational data

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European Geosciences Union

Reveal carbon dynamics of a Mediterranean savanna ecosystem by utilizing long-term observational data

Reveal carbon dynamics of a Mediterranean savanna ecosystem by utilizing long-term observational data

International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles logo

International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles

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


Jena, Germany


Relevant divisions
Biogeosciences (BG)
Climate: Past, Present & Future (CL)
Geosciences Instrumentation and Data Systems (GI)

Full time

Student / Graduate / Internship

We offer scholarships for 4 years and full-time contracts for 3 years within an international and multidisciplinary working environment. The starting date is flexible.

Preferred education

Application deadline
16 August 2022

24 June 2022

Job description

Supervisors: Sung Ching Lee , Tarek El-Madany , Jacob A. Nelson , Markus Reichstein

Project description

Savanna type ecosystems play a major role for inter-annual variability of terrestrial carbon sink. They typically consist of scattered trees and a coexisting continuous grasslayer. Our understanding of long-term carbon exchanges of savanna ecosystems is limited. Moreover, these ecosystems are usually exposed to different fertilization management, high hydroclimatic variability, and synoptic-scale weather event that further complicate carbon exchanges. Stoichiometric imbalance led by fertilization can greatly affect ecosystem structure and functioning. Secondly, occasional rain events during dry season can induce large soil carbon emissions. Lastly, altered incoming diffuse radiation caused by Saharan dust storms has potential to change plants photosynthetic level. However, all these responses can not be easily generalised and involve complex interactions.

Project summary

The PhD project will focus on assessing how both biophysical and biogeochemical properties of a savanna ecosystem respond to management and climatic impacts using existing diverse and long-term dataset. Specifically, the PhD will explore:

  • Multiscale flux variations and hence to identify dominate synchronous and asynchronous controls at different time scales.
  • Relationships between carbon flux and precipitation events and evaluate impacts of length of dry period on the relationships.
  • Responses of ecosystem-scale carbon flux to dust storm events with different intensities and durations and assess strength of diffuse radiation fertilization.

Working group & planned collaboration

The candidate will be based in the Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions and Experimentation group in the MPI-BGC Biogeochemical Integration department, and will have chance to closely work with collaborators in Spain, Italy, Austria, and Portugal.
Requirements for the PhD project are
Applications are open to highly motivated and independent students from any country who:

  • Hold a Master’s degree in geography or environmental science (or related)
  • Are experienced in statistical analysis and modelling (using R or Matlab) or others
  • Have excellent oral and written English language skills

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.

How to apply

Apply online on until August 16, 2022.