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.


DEEP C Project


SNF October 2017 - September 2021

Link: Deep C
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 , Postdoc, email
Nicholas E.O. Ofiti, PhD candidate, email
Cyrill Zosso, PhD candidate, email

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

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.

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. 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.


Arctic Tundra Surface Energy Budget - assessing the status and informing predictions


SNSF, December 2018 – November 2022
Project investigator
Prof Dr. Gabriela Schaepman-Strub email
UZH collaborators
Raleigh Grysko, PhD candidate email
Dr. Jacqueline Oehri, Postdoc email
Elena Plekhanova, PhD candidate email

This project aims to assess drivers of energy fluxes of the arctic land surface and their impacts on the carbon and water cycle. One of the drivers investigated is the predicted increase in summer precipitation and its impact on permafrost thaw and, in collaboration with the URPP GCB, on vegetation composition and plant traits. The Arctic land has warmed up to 5°C in the 20'th century and substantial warming and increased precipitation are predicted for the 21st century. Such climatic changes impact the energy, water, and carbon cycle. To date, there is a very strong research bias towards the carbon cycle, while the carbon budget will strongly depend on the fate of the energy and water fluxes. A tight coupling of these three cycles exists through the short- and longwave radiation absorption and its partitioning into sensible, latent, and ground heat flux.  This project aims to 1) strengthen the understanding of the relevance of the energy budget on the state and future of the Arctic system across scientific disciplines, 2) assess the status of the energy fluxes and identify their drivers through synthesizing existing pan-arctic data, 3) address how an increase or decrease of soil moisture affects the surface energy budget.
Following a mechanistic approach, we will perform detailed radiative and turbulent flux measurements in an experiment (in the northeast Siberian tundra, a severely underrepresented Arctic region and ecosystem with respect to global experiments and observations) with a precipitation addition and drought treatment, complemented by a mechanistic model. Through the combined experimental and modelling framework, we will contribute mechanistic understanding of future summer precipitation changes onto Arctic ecosystems and related energy flux changes. In the long term, the proposed research is expected to significantly impact the representation of major drivers and feedbacks of the Arctic terrestrial energy fluxes in land surface models - a prerequisite for an improved prediction of the Arctic system, its coupling at global scale.