Thomas Kleinen


Email: thomas.kleinen@we dont want

Phone: +49-40-41173-140

Fax: +49-40-41173-350

Room G1714


Mailing Address

Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

Bundesstr. 53

D-20146 Hamburg




The Land in the Earth System

 Research Group

Climate-Biogeosphere Interaction



Research Interests

I am investigating the role of the land surface in the global carbon cycle, mainly on longer time scales.

The current focus of my research is on the accumulation of carbon in wetland and permafrost soils, as well as emissions of methane from these areas. As part of this research I have implemented a model of sub-gridscale wetland hydrology, peat accumulation, and CH4 emissions in the DGVM LPJ, as well as in JSBACH, the land surface model of the MPI-ESM.

Currently I am investigating methane emissions during the last glacial cycle in the context of the Palmod project.

I am also involved in the Global Carbon Project Methane Assessment and in the PAGES C-PEAT network.


Previously, I was a senior research associate at the Climatic Research Unit, where I collaborated with Tim Osborn and Keith Briffa in an investigation of the climate of the little ice age.
We performed a sensitivity study with the GCM HadCM3, which we forced by various candidate mechanisms (negative NAO, decrease in radiative forcing, slowdown of the MOC), in order to find out how the climate produced by these mechanisms compares to palaeodata.

My PhD at the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research was on the detection of critical thresholds in the climate system, as well as the consideration of uncertainty in the integrated assessment of climate change by stochastic methods.

A short list of things I'm interested in:

  • The methane cycle
  • The land carbon cycle, focusing on long-term C storage in wet or frozen ecosystems
  • Past climate
  • The co-evolution of the biosphere and climate
  • Vegetation traits
  • Nonlinear thresholds in the climate system, in ecosystems or in the socioeconomic system
  • Indicators for thresholds: Quantities, available from measurement data, that allow a prediction of the distance to the threshold
  • consideration of uncertainty
  • nonlinear, conceptual models of the climate system
  • stochastic dynamical systems, as applied to the climate system

I read two classes:

The dynamical palaeoclimatology course in the Meteorology and Integrated Climate System Science MSc programmes.

Terrestrial Ecosystem Modelling in the Integrated Climate System Science MSc programme.

Lecture slides can be found here. The page is password protected, please contact me for access.

Curriculum vitae

2005: PhD in theoretical physics, Potsdam University, Germany.
2000: Diplom in physics, Potsdam University, Germany.

since 01/01/2009: Research Scientist, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany.
01/01/2008 - 31/12/2008: Research Scientist, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany.
01/08/2005 - 31/12/2007: Senior Research Associate, Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.
01/02/2001 - 31/07/2005: Research Associate, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany.