EGU logo

European Geosciences Union

Open PhD project: Ensemble Simulations of greenhouse gas distributions for remote sensing data assimilation

Open PhD project: Ensemble Simulations of greenhouse gas distributions for remote sensing data assimilation

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)
Earth and Space Science Informatics (ESSI)
Geosciences Instrumentation and Data Systems (GI)


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:
Rising anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) continue to increase the radiative forcing of the atmosphere, with implications for our planet’s climate. Emissions are annually reported at the national level to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) according to specific guidelines. However, required mitigation efforts such as emission reduction need to be accompanied by independent verification. Observation of the abundance of GHGs in the atmosphere by in-situ methods and by remote sensing from satellites in combination with inverse transport simulations allows for independently estimating surface-atmosphere exchange fluxes. At the core of this project is a data assimilation system utilizing atmospheric observations of greenhouse gas concentrations from satellite instruments to quantify regional-scale sources and sinks of greenhouse gases. As first steps towards such a system, the candidate will combine the WRF-GHG modeling system for mesoscale simulations of atmospheric greenhouse gas distributions with elements of the CarboScope-Regional inversion system, which calculates surface-atmosphere exchange fluxes based on atmospheric observations of GHGs. An ensemble simulation for CO 2 and associated tracers (NO 2 , CO) will be set up and applied to assess the potential of remote sensing of greenhouse gases for the quantification of GHG surface-atmosphere exchange. The main scientific questions to be addressed are:

  • Can fossil and biospheric fluxes of CO 2 be separated in a high-resolution data assimilation system using satellite data?
  • How well are the plumes of NO 2 and CO observed by satellite (S5P) represented in high-resolution tracer transport simulations?
  • Can point source emissions be quantified based on ensemble simulations using satellite data?

Working group & planned collaborations
The ATM group led by C. Gerbig has a long background of both forward and inverse regional model development. Collaborations are planned with the Institute for Environmental Physics at the University of Bremen.

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 providing a strong analytical background (e.g. environmental science, physics, computer science, mathematics, or similar),
  • programming skills (such as IDL, Matlab, R, Python or
  • modeling
  • processing and analyzing large data sets
  • statistics
  • remote sensing data handling
  • Very good oral and written communication skills in English, knowledge of German and/or Portuguese is an asset

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.