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Greencycles II

Greencycles II

TW4 - Nitrogen in the Earth System

Event Dates: 25 – 28 February 2013
Location: Germany
Organisers: Sönke Zaehle, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
ECTS Point Allocation: 3

From Feburary 25 to 28, 5 Greencycles II fellows and 33 external participants took part in the Greencycles Training Workshop 4 on "Nitrogen in the Earth System", organised at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry. The course was divided into two parts - a first covering the current scientific understanding of the global nitrogen cycle, and a second covering the details of modelling the terrestrial carbon and nitrogen cycles.

The first part consisted of a series of lectures from distinguished international speakers, namely

  • A chronology of human understanding of the nitrogen cycle (J Galloway, Univ. Virginia)
  • Introduction to the nitrogen physiology of plants (ED Schulze, MPI Biogeochemistry)
  • Introduction to nitrogen cycling in the soil (R Hood-Nowotny, Univ. Vienna)
  • Nitrogen fixation, process understanding and global quantification (D Menge, Univ. Princeton)
  • The atmospheric N cycle (F Dentener, JRC)
  • The terrestrial N cycle (S Zaehle, MPI Biogeochemistry)
  • The aquatic N cycle and riverine N transport from land to sea (M Strokal, Univ. Wageningen)
  • Biogeochemistry of nitrogen in the ocean (M Voss, Leipniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung)
  • The anthropogenic nitrogen cascade (J Galloway, Univ. Virginia)
  • Nitrogen and climate change (JW Erisman, Louise-Bolk Insitute)

With ample time for the students to query the lectures or interact with them during sufficiently long breaks. Because of the long travel ways to Jena, the lectures by F. Dentener, J. Galloway, and D. Menge were held with a remote conference device, which allowed for clear presentations and a lively interaction after the course.

The second part consisted of an introduction to the coupled carbon-nitrogen cycles by S Zaehle, followed by a series of presentations from PhD students on specific aspects of the C-N coupling and specific models used. Ample of time was put aside to discuss model concepts and parameterisations. This included presentations for the LPJ-Guess (D. Warlind), LPX-Bern (B. Stocker), JULES (GCII fellow A. Marti), JSBACH (D. Goll), O-CN (J Meyerholt/S Zaehle), CLM4 (RQ Thomas, remote), and DNDC (D. Krauss). This theoretical part was followed by two practical exercises: The first used outputs from an ongoing international model intercomparison activity using FACE data to introduce model evaluation techniques. The second, more importantly, was based on model simulations that the participants had prepared in advance, and which allowed to trace the effects of soil warming and elevated CO2 on the coupled terrestrial nitrogen and carbon cycles in a point-scale simulation for 200 years. This served as a discussion for the effects and validity of particular model assumptions, though the simulation results were too preliminary to come to firm conclusions.

In summary, students returned home satisfied, with a better overview on the global nitrogen cycles, alternative model approaches that would complement their approach, some idea of what could be done to improve future modelling activities and loads of questions for them to resolve in the future.


  1. Evgeny Berezin, Institute of Applied Physics of Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
  2. Chao Ting Chang, CREAF, Spain – GC
  3. Enrico Dammers, VU/TNO Amsterdam, Netherlands
  4. Haifa Debouk, University of Lleida (Udl) & Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia (CTFC), Spain
  5. Katrin Fleischer, VU Amsterdam, Netherlands
  6. Martina Franz, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  7. Daniel Goll, Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany
  8. Stefan Hanf, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany
  9. Iulia Ilie, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  10. Steffen Klatt, IMK-IFU, Germany
  11. Igor Konovalov, Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences , Russia
  12. Daniela Kracher, Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany
  13. David Kraus, IMK-IFU, Germany
  14. Spencer Liddicoat, Met Office Hadley Centre, UK
  15. Alex Marti-Donati, University of Exeter, UK – GC
  16. Jorge Martinez-Rey, LSCE, France – GC
  17. Perla Mellado Vazquez, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  18. Johannes Meyerholt, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  19. Markus Müller, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  20. Talie Sadat Musavi, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  21. Martin Nowak, GeoZentrum Nordbayern, Germany
  22. Tonatiuh Nunez Ramirez, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  23. Stefan Olin, Lund University, Sweden
  24. Gabriela Pereyra, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  25. Thomas Pugh Karlsruhe, Institute of Technology IMK-IFU, Germany
  26. Eddy Robertson, London Met Office, UK
  27. Carlos Sierra, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  28. Emily Solly, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  29. Dominik Sperlich, CREAF, Spain – GC
  30. Beate Stawiarski, UEA, UK – GC
  31. Jörg Steinkamp, Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), Germany
  32. Benjamin Stocker, Climate and Environmental Physics, University of Bern, Switzerland
  33. Maryna Strokal, Wageningen University, Netherlands
  34. Martin Van Damme, ULB/VU, France
  35. David Warlind, Lund University, Sweden
  36. Sebastian Wieneke, University of Cologne, Germany
  37. Haiyang Zhang, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  38. Jakob Zscheischler, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany