Affiliated Projects


The mission of ICES is to integrate the vast pools of knowledge contained within today's multitude of scientific and socio-economic specializations and to develop next generation ‘holistic’ modeling, simulation and visualizations that accurately depict the medium and long term future direction of planet Earth. ICES will further combine science, supercomputing and simulation to better understand and protect our planet and its many life forms. The ICES Foundation was formed in January 2010 and seeks to operate as a Public-Private-Partnership with close cooperation between multiple domains of society: government, academia, industry, ngo’s, and private enterprise.



GlobDiversity is the first large-scale project explicitly designed to develop and engineer RS-enabled EBVs. This project initiated by the European Space Agency (ESA) supports the efforts of the Convention on Biological Diversity CBD, Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services IPBES, Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network GEO-BON, among others, to build a global knowledge of biological diversity of terrestrial ecosystems (= on land) and of relevance for society.

The focus of GlobDiversity lies on three RS-enabled EBVs:

  •   Fragmentation
  •   Canopy chlorophyll concentration
  •   Land surface phenology

Within the project, these three variables will be investigated in detail provide an observation system to assess the variable in an efficient and effective way, covering extensive areas at a fine spatial and temporal resolution. In addition, Vegetation Height with focus on future satellite mission requirements, will also be investigated as potential future RS-enabled EBV.

GlobDiversity also contributes to the discussion in defining the key EBVs for tracking biological diversity retrievable from remote sensing.



bioDISCOVERY is an international research programme fostering collaborative interdisciplinary activities on biodiversity and ecosystem science. By the means of a scientific network, we advance the use of observations, indicators and scenarios to support policy and decision-making for informed global environmental management.

Mission: to promote and advance interdisciplinary collaborative research on feedbacks between global change drivers, and the biodiversity, functioning and services of natural ecosystems. Our science supports decision-making and policies that ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity worldwide.

Synthesis and catalysing work forms the backbone of bioDISCOVERY activities, which are centred around three focal areas:

1. Monitoring & Observations
Monitoring biodiversity change on various scales allows us to track responses of species, communities and ecosystems to environmental change, and to identify the drivers of observed responses to change. Improved observations make an important contribution to building better models and scenarios.

The Monitoring and Observations component of bioDISCOVERY focuses on the “nuts and bolts” of doing better science in observations, from remote sensing to in-situ measuring of biodiversity (on all levels, from genes to ecosystems), traits and ecosystem function, and including experiments observed changes.

2. Scenarios & Models
Models of biodiversity, ecosystem function and ecosystem services enhance our understanding of (recent) past and future biodiversity change in response to multiple natural and anthropogenic drivers, and thus improve our understanding of the consequences of biodiversity change for ecosystem function and ecosystem service provision. An improved understanding of the underlying mechanisms of biodiversity and ecosystem change allows us to more accurately predict and better respond to future changes under different (policy) scenarios.

In the Scenarios & Models component, the work will focus on the development of scenarios that include additional policy options for conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services to enrich the current suite of IPCC SSP scenarios, and to examine the impacts of the different policy options on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

3. Supporting Assessment Bodies
The predictive outputs of robust biodiversity and ecosystem models, using sound scenarios provide clearer and stronger messages to decision- and policy makers, and support the development of effective policy in the face of global environmental change.

Supporting Assessment component will support international assessments in a policy context, in particular IPBES, and the CBD Global Biodiversity Outlook, but also IPCC, and other assessments that rely on information on biodiversity and ecosystems.



SNF October 2017 - September 2021

Link: SNF project 172744
Project partners:
Prof. Dr. Michael W.I. Schmidt email
PD Dr. Guido L. B. Wiesenberg email
Dr. Samuel Abiven email

UZH collaborators:
Dr. Emily Solly (starts February 2018), Postdoc
Nicholas E.O. Ofiti, PhD candidate, email
Cyrill Zosso (starts February 2018), PhD candidate

External project partners
Dr. Paul Hanson (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA), Link
Prof. Dr. Margaret Torn (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA)

The warming of planet Earth will be accelerated if soil organic carbon (SOC) is lost to the atmosphere as greenhouse gas. Representations of this positive carbon-cycle-climate feedback are part of many climate projections, but there is little experimental evidence for several reasons: i) Research has focused on rapid processes (measuring respiration, and quantifying mass loss on decomposition), and not on the analytically more challenging, insights into the physico- chemical properties of SOC that influences the rates of these processes, especially over longer term. ii) Analytical efforts have focused on bulk measurement, and only recently on functionally different SOC pools (density, and size fractions) or sources (plant vs. microbial). iii) Experimental efforts have favored laboratory incubations (often using disturbed soil), with relatively short time scales (weeks to months) over long-term (years and longer) in situ field experiments. iv) The first generation of field experiments mostly used surface warming, which did not warm the subsoil, thus missing a large part of the total SOC. Thus, we need new types of measurements to provide new insights into decomposition.
The project takes advantage of three multi- year deep soil warming field experiments maintained by the US Department of Energy as part of long-term Scientific Focus Area projects. These sites represent three biomes: Mediterranean grassland, Temperate forest, and Boreal forested peat. We will use the rapidly evolving methodological development of isotopic labeling and molecular markers to resolve dynamics as root-microbial-mineral interactions.
For the first time, we will combine multi-year, deep soil warming, molecular markers and isotopic labeling in functionally different SOC pools, to explore how the soil-plant system responds to a +4°C warmer world. We will find out if allocation between above and below ground plant biomass will change. And if deeper in the soil profile, new mineral sorption sites will be filled, potentially stabilizing SOC for longer. Will warming favor bacteria over fungi and consequently the build-up of bacterial necromass deeper in the profile? Ultimately, we want to integrate our results into the next generation of vertically-resolved SOC models as tools for understanding and predicting soil biogeochemical response to global change. The project on below ground carbon cycling DEEP C aims to answer the fundamental question what the role of soils will be in terrestrial feedbacks to warming over the next century.