The Max PlanckInstitut fur Biogeochemie

The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (Society) has a number of institutes conducting biogeochemical research. The Institutes for Chemistry and Meteorology have long had programs addressing atmosphere-biosphere exchange and the carbon cycle. The MaxPlanck-Institut for Biogeochemistry was set up to provide an intellectual focus for research on the global biogeochemical cycles.

Biogeochemistry had emerged in the 1990s as a center of both intellectual and policy ferment and yet the discipline lacked a center like the great institutions in meteorology and oceanography. The goal of the MPI for Biogeochemistry was to combine the biological and geophysical components of the field in a balanced way, and to bring together empirical, theoretical, and modeling groups. While biogeochemistry has flourished internationally, few biogeo-chemists, especially the more biologically oriented, find themselves close to the center of their institution's interests.

The Institute combines measurements and experimental studies with theory, simulation, and diagnostic research. The initial staff in the Institute brings together young scientists trained in both the geophysical and ecological disciplines, together in the same Institute, Departments and even offices. The combination of perspectives will lead to all sorts of turmoil (hopefully) with modelers suggesting new measurements, experimentalists identifying new modeling approaches, and diagnosticians identifying inconsistency between theory and observation (the latter requiring new data and models). This type of ferment has long been a highlight of the field, and the MPI will accelerate the pace of discovery in an already dynamic area.


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