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ECOSENSE (SFB 1537) - Multi-scale quantification and modelling of spatio-temporal dynamics of ecosystem processes by smart autonomous sensor networks


Global climate change threatens ecosystem functioning worldwide. Forest ecosystems are particularly important for carbon sequestration. However, recurrent stresses, such as heat waves, floods, and droughts, increasingly endanger even central European forests, with potentially cascading effects on their carbon sink capacity, drought resilience, and sustainability. Knowledge on the impact on the multitude of processes driving soil-plant-atmosphere interactions within these complex systems is widely lacking and uncertainty about future changes extremely high. Thus, forecasting forest response to climate change will require an improved process understanding of carbon and water cycling across various temporal and spatial scales, from minutes to seasons, from leaves to ecosystem, covering the atmosphere, biosphere, pedosphere and hydrosphere. Many relevant processes occur at small scales and high spatial heterogeneity and their interactions and feed-back loops can be key players to amplify or dampen a system’s response to stress. Currently, we are lacking the appropriate measuring, data and modelling tools allowing for comprehensive, real time quantification of relevant processes at high spatio-temporal coverage. Moreover, climate impacts are highly unpredictable, and thus future research will require novel mobile, easy deployable, and cost- efficient approaches. Our interdisciplinary research project ECOSENSE will investigate all relevant scales in a next generation ecosystem research assessment. Our vision is to detect and forecast critical changes in ecosystem functioning based on the understanding of hierarchical process interaction. To do so ECOSENSE will develop, implement, and test a new versatile, distributed, cost-effective, autonomous, intelligent sensor network based on novel microsensors tailored to the specific needs in remote and harsh forest environments. Theywill measure the spatio-temporal dynamics of ecosystem states and fluxes in a minimally invasive manner in naturally complex structured forests. Measured data will be transferred in real-time into a sophisticated database which can be explored for process analysis, deep learning approaches, and enhanced simulation models for now- and forecasting applications. ECOSENSE will open new horrizons for integrative ecosystem research by i) identifying hierarchies and interactions of abiotic and biotic processes of forest carbon and water exchange, ii) provide a profound understanding of complex ecosystem responses to environmental stressors enabling the iii) prediction of process-based alterations in ecosystem functioning and sustainability. Our novel ECOSENSE Toolkit, tested and validated in controlled climate extreme experiments, and our ECOSENSE Forest, will open new horizons for rapid assessment in vast and remote ecosystems.


Christiane Werner and Ulrike Wallrabe

Open positions

We have exciting open positions in the different Research Areas below! (updated daily)

Please follow the instructions of the application process given below in the documents requried:

  • ECOSENSE formal process and details for your application (PDF)
  • ECOSENSE title sheet of your application (Word-File)
  • ECOSENSE core data for your application (Excel-File)

ECOSENSE is structured in three main Research Areas including a Central Project and a Research Training Group

More information about the Research Areas and open positions within can be accessed by clicking on the links:

Research Area A – Water, carbon and volatile organic compound (VOC) fluxes along the different ecosystem compartments and across scales 


Research Area B - Active chlorophyll fluorescence measurements as a sensitive stress parameter addressing the relevance of microclimatic heterogeneity


Research Area C - Intelligent sensor network, robustness, data management, ecosystem model, and deep‑learning


Z-projects and RTG – Common infrastructure, administration and Research Training Group (RTG)



University of Freiburg


Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources

Environmental Meteorology Prof. Dr. Andreas Christen
Biometry and Environ­mental System Analysis Prof. Dr. Carsten Dormann
Remote Sensing and Land­scape Information Systems Prof. Dr. Barbara Koch, Dr. Anna Göritz
Soil Ecology Prof. Dr. Friderike Lang, Dr. Helmer Schack-Kirchner
Hydrology Prof. Dr. Markus Weiler
Ecosystem Physiology Prof. Dr. Christiane Werner, PD Jürgen Kreuzwieser, Dr. Simon Haberstroh
Faculty of Engineering
Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK)
Design of Microsystems Prof. Dr. Peter Woias, Dr. Laura Comella
Chemistry and Physics of Interfaces Prof. Dr. Jürgen Rühe, Dr. Oswald Prucker
Electrical Instrumen­tation and Embedded Systems Prof. Dr. Stefan J. Rupitsch, Prof. Dr. Leonhard Reindl
Gas Sensors Prof. Dr. Jürgen Wöllenstein, Dr. Katrin Schmitt
Microactuators Prof. Dr. Ulrike Wallrabe
Department of Sustainable Systems Engineering (INATECH)
Large-Scale Structures Prof. Dr. Alexander Reiterer

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)


Department of Mechanical Engineering

Institute of Microstructure Technology Prof. Dr. Jan Korvink, Dr. Mazin Jouda
Department of Physics
Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research PD Dr. Ralf Kiese, Dr. habil. Rüdiger Grote


More Information:

Press Release University of Freiburg

Press Release DFG

Freidok Freiburg