Research of the Institute

Our goal: An integral scientific understanding of chemical processes in the Earth System from molecular to global scales.

The Institute consists of four scientific departments and additonal research groups. Current research at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz aims at an integral understanding of chemical processes in the Earth system, particularly in the atmosphere and biosphere. Our scientists explore the interactions of the climate, ocean, and atmospheric systems from geologic to annual time scales. Investigations address a wide range of interactions between air, water, soil, life and climate in the course of Earth history up to today´s human-driven epoch, the Anthropocene.

Scientists conduct laboratory experiments, collect samples and record measurement data during field campaigns utilizing airplanes, ships, and vehicles. The practical work is complemented with mathematical models that simulate chemical, physical, and biological processes from molecular to global scales. One of the major goals is to find out how  air pollution, including reactive trace gases and aerosols, affect the atmosphere, biosphere, climate, and public health.

A short description of current research topics is given in the Institute Reports.

Atmospheric Chemistry Department

The research interests in the Atmospheric Chemistry Department (Prof. Dr. Jos Lelieveld) focus on the study of ozone and other atmospheric photo-oxidants, their chemical reactions and global cycles. The processes are studied through kinetic and photochemical laboratory investigations, in situ and remote sensing measurements. Further activities include development of numerical models to describe meteorological and chemical processes in the atmosphere, to simulate the complex atmospheric interactions and to test the theory through intensive ground-based, ship, aircraft and satellite measurement campaigns.

To Atmospheric Chemistry Department


Department of Climate Geochemistry

The Climate Geochemistry Department (Prof. (ETHZ) Dr. Gerald H. Haug)The Climate Geochemistry  department explores the climate -ocean-atmosphere system on annual up to geological timescales. Of particular interest is the Cenozoic, namely the past 65 million years, where changes in internal feedback processes, such as interactions between ocean and atmosphere, oceanic heat transport or its nutrient status are investigated. Other focal points are biogeochemical processes in the polar oceans and their role in regulating atmospheric CO2 concentration between ice ages and warmer periods. Using various geochemical techniques the researchers examine geological archives such as sediments from the open ocean and speleothems.

To the department Climate Geochemistry


Multiphase Chemistry Department

The Multiphase Chemistry Department (Prof. Dr. Ulrich Pöschl) deals with multiphase processes at the molecular level and its impact on the macroscopic and global scale. In the Earth System and climate research, the focus is on the study of biological and organic aerosols, aerosol-cloud interactions and atmospheric surface exchange processes. In the field of life and health sciences, the researchers study the change of protein macromolecules air pollution and how this affects allergic reactions and diseases.

To Multiphase Chemistry Department


Particle Chemistry Department

The Department of Particle Chemistry (Prof. Dr. Stephan Borrmann) studied the physical properties and chemical composition of atmospheric aerosol and cloud particles. Therefore, laboratory experiments (e.g. in a vertical wind tunnel), measurements on ground and hill stations and on mobile measurement fascilities (especially on airplanes) are carried out. In addition, methods are being developed to measure the aerosol by mass spectrometry. Using isotopic measurements extraterrestrial particles, such as presolar grains from meteorites and comets are being analyzed.

To Particle Chemistry Department


Further research groups

Currently there are four additional research groups at the Institute: The Minerva group of Dr. Yafang Cheng deals with the interaction of aerosols, air quality and climate. Dr. Mikhail Eremets studies mater at high pressures. Dr. Tina Lüdecke investigates the hominin meat consumption. The Satellite Research Group of Prof. Dr. Thomas Wagner analyzes satellite data in order to draw conclusions about tropospheric and stratospheric trace gases.


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