The Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) is an internationally renowned institute for climate research. Its mission is to understand Earth's changing climate.


The MPI-M comprises three departments and, together with the Opens external link in current windowUniversity of Hamburg, an international PhD program:

The Atmosphere in the Earth System

The Land in the Earth System
The Ocean in the Earth System


In addition the institute hosts independent research groups focused on the following topics:


Scientists at the MPI-M investigate what determines the sensitivity of the Earth system to perturbations such as the changing composition of its atmosphere, and work toward establishing the sources and limits of predictability within the Earth system. MPI-M develops and analyses sophisticated models of the Earth system, which simulate the processes within atmosphere, land and ocean. Such models have developed into important tools for understanding the behaviour of our climate, and they form the basis for international assessments of climate change. Targeted in-situ measurements and satellite observations complement the model simulations.


Together with several other non-university research institutions the MPI-M and the University of Hamburg constitute Opens external link in current windowCliSAP, a centre of excellence for climate research and education in Hamburg, Germany.

Focus on

Coupled ice sheet-climate modeling

For a better understanding of the climate system, past climates (paleoclimates) are studied with model simulations. During the last ice age, massive ice sheets covered not only Greenland and Antarctica, but also large parts of North America, Scandinavia, and parts of northern Siberia. Florian Ziemen and his colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) coupled an ice sheet model (mPISM) interactively with MPI-M´s global climate model (ECHAM5/MPIOM). With this new model system, they studied coupled ice sheet-climate simulations for pre-industrial times and the last ice age for the first time.

In the comprehensive coupled climate models, the ice sheets previously were prescribed when studying the ice age. Ice sheets vary on timescales of centuries to millennia, and their changes were therefore considered as negligible for shorter simulations. Nevertheless, these ice sheets do change and interact with the other climate-system components atmosphere and ocean. Therefore, simulations are required that can represent the climate as well as the ice sheets and their interactions. Read more