The Atmosphere in the Earth System
Prof. Dr. Björn Stevens
The department's focus is on understanding how atmospheric processes determine patterns of surface precipitation, temperature, and other aspects of surface climate. This focus is motivated by a desire to make sense of Earth system susceptibility, one of the two questions guiding research within the institute as a whole.
Specific questions that interest us include: What controls the planetary albedo? How do moist processes (clouds and convection) influence the structure of the general circulation, and the hydrological cycle? How do stratospheric processes couple to the troposphere and influence climate?
We maintain the atmospheric component of the MPI Earth System Model, one of the worlds leading atmospheric general circulation models. We have developed and sustained the Barbados Cloud Observatory, a one of a kind facility supporting advanced remote sensing of marine tropical cloud systems, and also are active in airborne research through the development and deployment of a remote sensing payload for the German high-altitude research aircraft HALO.
The Land in the Earth System
Prof. Dr. Martin Claussen
The land surface as part of the Earth system affects the regional and global climate. In turn, the climate shapes the structure of the land surface especially the global distribution of forests, steppes, and dry regions. Meanwhile humankind has drastically modified his habitat - the land surface. The goal of this department is to investigate the development of the mutual interactions between land surface, climate, and mankind in the past and in the future. This will be accomplished by the application of models, in situ measurements, and satellite observations.
The Ocean in the Earth System
Prof. Dr. Jochem Marotzke
The activities of the department span almost all aspects of the ocean's role in climate dynamics. Areas of interest range from the mechanisms of ocean-climate dynamics and biogeochemistry over glacial-interglacial cycles, to the behaviour of the ocean meridional overturning circulation in a future world with enhanced greenhouse gas concentrations. The main research tools are coupled ocean-atmosphere and Earth system models, but observations, statistical analysis, and data assimilation are also employed to improve the understanding of the past, current, and future ocean. Important initiatives within the department are the development of the ocean component of ICON and the building of a system for decadal climate prediction.