Doctoral researcher assessing scale questions in land-atmosphere modeling


Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München


Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Start Date

Monday, April 1, 2024

The unit of Physical Geography and Earth System Interactions at LMU’s Department of Geography investigates vegetation-climate interactions. The groups of Prof. Julia Pongratz and Prof. Mirjana Sakradzija develop and apply the latest generation of atmosphere, land and Earth system models and integrate them with observations. Key research questions are the fate of ecosystems under the pressures of land use and climate change, Earth system feedbacks via energy, water and biogeochemical cycles, and the role of boundary-layer turbulence and convection in land-atmosphere interactions. The team is strongly involved in large international collaborations such as the CMIP, IPCC and the Global Carbon Project.


The quality of weather forecasts, seasonal simulations, and climate projections depends critically on the adequate representation of land-atmosphere (L-A) feedbacks. These feedbacks are the result of a highly complex network of processes and variables related to the exchange of momentum, energy, and mass. Significant challenges persist in understanding processes and feedbacks, which this initiative will address.

The Land-Atmosphere Feedback Initiative (LAFI) is an interdisciplinary consortium, led by the University of Hohenheim, of researchers from atmospheric, agricultural, and soil sciences as well as from bio-geo-physics, hydrology, and neuroinformatics proposing a novel combination of advanced research methods. The overarching goal of LAFI is to understand and quantify L-A feedbacks via unique synergistic observations and model simulations from the micro-gamma (» 2 m) to the meso-gamma (» 2 km) scales across diurnal to seasonal time scales.

The doctoral researcher will be part of the Land-Atmosphere Feedback Initiative (LAFI, see above), a new Research Unit funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). At LMU we will address scale interactions with the overall aim to substantially improve our understanding of land-atmosphere exchange concerning the question how relevant it is to resolve land-surface heterogeneity that is not resolved in global Earth system models, despite these models’ application to rather small-scale problems like impacts of land-use decisions on regional climate. We will draw on high-resolution large-eddy modeling with ICON to bridge these scales. The doctoral researcher will

  • evaluate and improve an advanved land surface model in atmospheric simulations at hectometer scale,
  • run and evaluate this model for Central European sites, in collaboration with observational partners and complementary land modeling approaches in LAFI, and test various ways of representing land heterogeneity,
  • take a leading role in the development of scientific publications on water, energy and carbon fluxes comparing large-eddy and Earth system model output.