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2 PostDoc positions in soil and biosphere biogeochemical modeling, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena

#1 von Karsten , 16.05.2017 22:50

The department of Biogeochemical Integration (BGI) at the MPI for
Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, conducts research to better
understand the manifold interactions between terrestrial
biogeochemistry and climate. One focus is to study the coupled
terrestrial carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles and their response
to global change. The research in this area encompasses detailed
studies of soil dynamics, field ecosystem experimentation, as well as
theoretical and applied ecosystem/biosphere modelling.

The research of the terrestrial biosphere modelling group (TBM) in the
BGI department focuses on the development and evaluation of large scale
terrestrial biosphere models, and in particular the importance of the
biogeochemical nutrient cycles for land-climate feedbacks. We
contribute to a European-wide effort to improve the current generation
of Earth System models within the H2020-funded international project
“Coordinated Research in Earth Systems and Climate: Experiments,
Knowledge, Dissemination and Outreach (CRESCENDO)“, in which we lead
the work package on land model evaluation. Our main funding stems from
an ERC consolidator grant (“Quantifying the effects of interacting
nutrient cycles on terrestrial biosphere dynamics and their climate
feedbacks�; QUINCY), in which we seek to develop the next-generation of
nutrient-enabled land surface models.

To further advance the integration of observations and modelling, and
in particular, our ability to simulate the ecosystem- and larger-scale effects of nutrient availability on soil organic matter dynamics and
plant growth, we are looking to recruit

2 PostDocs (f/m) in soil and biosphere biogeochemical modelling and
evaluation (2 years)

Your Job (ref #1) in the QUINCY project:
- investigate the feedback between increased plant-based rhizosphere inputs under higher levels of atmospheric CO2 and soil organic matter
decomposition and nutrient release.
- contribute to the further development of the process-based soil
organic carbon model COMISSION (Ahrens et al. 2015), which has been
updated to account for the effects of nitrogen and phosphorus
availability on soil microbial dynamics and thus soil organic matter
turnover. The soil model can be run coupled to the dynamic
representation of vegetation growth and below-ground carbon allocation
of the QUINCY vegetation model (a thoroughly updated version of the
O-CN model; Zaehle & Friend, 2010).
- apply and evaluate the novel model using data from Free Air CO2
Enrichment experiments.
- contribute to publications in international scientific journals and
presentations on national and international meetings

Your Job (ref #2) in the CRESCENDO project:
- evaluate the representation of terrestrial carbon-nitrogen cycle
coupling of the current generation of land surface schemes that will be
used within the upcoming CMIP6 climate projection simulations.
- use existing site-level and global simulations, provided by the
CRESCENDO project, to infer the adequacy of the implemented schemes for
predicting future trends in the terrestrial carbon and nitrogen cycles
(using e.g. data from Free Air CO2 Enrichment experiments or fertiliser
- contribute to the on-going development of a new land surface scheme
within the QUINCY project simulating the coupled global terrestrial
carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles within the framework of the
MPI-Earth System model.
- contribute to publications in international scientific journals and
presentations on national and international meetings

Your profile:
- PhD degree in a quantitative natural science (e.g. geo-ecology,
environmental science, biology, or applied mathematics)
- profound knowledge of soil organic matter dynamics (job #1), model
evaluation (job #2), as well as ecosystem modelling, and global
- very good programming skills
- demonstrated ability to write publications in scientific journals,
preferably in the field of soil and plant sciences
- good communication and organisational skills
- good knowledge of English

Further information:

The work environment

The successful applicants will join a young and international team in a
vibrant research environment, encompassing experimental and
theoretical work on the role of the biogeochemical cycles of carbon,
nitrogen and phosphorus in the Earth system. The department has
established an extensive network of international collaborations in
Europe, the U.S. and Australia.

Jena is not only famous for its high-tech industry, internationally
renowned research institutions and a modern university, but also for
its beautiful natural setting in the Saale valley with its steep
limestone slopes. The city of Jena has a large active student scene
supporting a diverse cultural life.

The conditions of employment, including upgrades and duration follow
the rules of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Sciences and
those of the German civil service. 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 employing more handicapped
individuals and especially encourages them to apply.

Please send your inquiries and/or applications including a letter of
interest, CV, and the names and contact information of two references
to Dr. Sönke Zaehle (, or directly to the
institute’s address (S. Zaehle, Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie,
Postfach 10 01 64, 07701 Jena, Germany).

Review of applications will begin on the 31st of May 2017. Interviews
are foreseen in Jena during June 2017.



Sönke Zaehle
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Ansprechpartner: Sönke Zaehle (

Beiträge: 743
Registriert am: 27.03.2011


PhD position in soil physics/soil hydrology, Müncheberg
Wiss. Mitarbeiter/in (zur Promotion) Bodenchemie, Uni Hohenheim

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