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The Eurasian forests are an important component in the earth’s climate system: Forests contain a lot of carbon in the vegetation and in the soil. But their role under warming conditions is still unclear – on the one hand, a higher CO2 level in the air acts like a fertilizer for plants that grow and thus store more CO2 in the form of carbon. On the other hand, microbes that like warmer temperatures bring the soil to decompose faster and release even more CO2 and methane. To monitor long-term biogeochemical changes, a German-Russian research collaboration established an observatory in the Siberian taiga. Since 2006, the regional effects of global warming are studied from the Zotino Tall Tower Observatory. As MARTIN HEIMANN explains in this video, two of the main findings of the long-term measurements are that currently the western Siberian forests store more carbon than they release. However, due to the many bogs the region is also a source of methane, another important greenhouse gas.


Martin Heimann is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, and Honorary Professor at Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena. He is a member of the Academia Europaea and was appointed Guest Professor at the University of Helsinki.

Heimann’s research focuses on the biogeochemistry of the global carbon cycle. A major part of his research is dedicated to long-term measurements of biogeochemical changes in the Eurasian forests, and their role in the earth’s climate system. Heimann contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.


Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (MPI-CE) investigates how organisms communicate with each other via chemical signals. We study how plants best adapt to their respective environments and identify the chemical compounds they produce to attract pollinators, fend off herbivores and pathogens, or keep unpleasant competitors away. In the course of evolution, insects have adapted to the survival strategies of plants. We therefore analyze the genetics, physiology and behavior of herbivorous insects. Insects also make use of plant substances to protect themselves against predators: They sequester toxic compounds; some insects even signal by exhibiting their bright colors that they should better not be eaten. Microorganisms play a crucial role in the fitness of plants and insects. Some are pathogens, others are symbiotic partners and help to supply nutrients or boost the immune system. We want to determine who plays which role. The MPI-CE was founded in 1996 and is part of the Max Planck Society. Together with Friedrich Schiller University Jena, it runs the International Max Planck Research School Chemical Communication in Ecological Systems, a graduate school for excellent international graduates. 
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Original publication

The Zotino Tall Tower Observatory (ZOTTO): Quantifying Large Scale Biogeochemical Changes in Central Siberia

others, Ernst-Detlef Schulze, Heimann Martin, Winderlich Jan, Meinrat O. Andreae, Chi Xuguang, Gerbig Christoph, Kolle Olaf, Kübler Karl, Lavric Jost and Mikhailov Eugene
Nova Acta Leopoldina NF
Published in 2014

Reading recommendations

Seasonal, Synoptic, and Diurnal-Scale Variability of Biogeochemical Trace Gases and O2 from a 300-m Tall Tower in Central Siberia

Heimann Martin, Kozlova Elena A., Manning Andrew C., Kisilyakhov Yegor and Seifert Thomas
Global Biogeochemical Cycles
Published in 2008

Long-Term Measurements of Aerosol and Carbon Monoxide at the ZOTTO Tall Tower to Characterize Polluted and Pristine Air in the Siberian Taiga

Heimann Martin, Winderlich Jan, Chi Xuguang, Mayer J-C, Cheng Y, Andreae MO, Panov Alexey V., Birmili Wolfram and Heintzenberg Jost
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Published in 2013

Inferences from CO2 and CH4 Concentration Profiles at the Zotino Tall Tower Observatory (ZOTTO) on Regional Summertime Ecosystem Fluxes

Heimann Martin, Winderlich Jan, Gerbig Christoph and Kolle Olaf
Published in 2014

Sources of and Variations in Tropospheric CO in Central Siberia: Numerical Experiments and Observations at the Zotino Tall Tower Observatory

Heimann Martin, Shtabkin Yury A., Moiseenko Konstantin B., Skorokhod Andrei and Vasileva Anastasia
Izvestiya, Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics
Published in 2016

Assessment of the Regional Atmospheric Impact of Wildfire Emissions Based on CO Observations at the ZOTTO Tall Tower Station in Central Siberia

Heimann Martin, Mayer J-C, Jürgens N, Panov Alexey V., Moiseenko Konstantin B., Vasileva Anastasia and Andreae Meinrat O.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Published in 2011

The Carbon Budget of the Northern Cryosphere Region

Heimann Martin, McGuire A. David, Macdonald Robie W., Schuur Edward A.G., Harden Jennifer W., Kuhry Peter, Hayes Daniel J. and Christensen Torben R.
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Published in 2010

An Estimate of the Terrestrial Carbon Budget of Russia Using Inventory-Based, Eddy Covariance and Inversion Methods

others, Chen T, Belelli Marchesini L, Maximov TC, Maksyutov S, Dolman Albertus J., Shvidenko Anatoly, Schepaschenko Dmitry, Ciais Philippe, Tchebakova Nadezhda and Van Der Molen Michiel K.
Published in 2012
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