Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry explore global cycles of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen - the four elements which are essential for life on earth. They cycle continuously, often as greenhouse gases, through the different "spheres" that make up the earth system: biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere/lithosphere. How are these cycles influenced by organisms and the climate? How do humans impact the atmospheric greenhouse gases, agriculture and biodiversity?
Light plays a vital role in research. Most importantly, sun light is the major force driving matter and energy cycles on earth - without the sun, photosynthesis, the basis for life on earth, would not exist. For example, efficiency of photosynthesis is being measured globally finding substantial regional differences. Also, different light sources are utilized as tools to research element cycles in the atmosphere, soil and vegetation. As part of international satellite missions, atmospheric greenhouse gases and the global vegetation activity are being analyzed.
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