Professor Tatiana Ilyina

Modeling the carbon cycle in the Earth system

Prof. Tatiana Ilyina

Professor, Head Modeling the carbon cycle in the Earth system

Universität Hamburg


Head of Department Earth system modeling 

Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon


Group Lead Ocean Biogeochemistry 

Max Planck Institute for Meteorology


Bundesstr. 55, 20146 Hamburg, Germany

email: tatiana.ilyina(at)uni-hamburg.de

phone: +49-40-42838-7402

In August 2023 I started as Professor for modeling the carbon cycle in the Earth system at Universität Hamburg - joining an exceptional setting of climate research and teaching at the Department of Earth system sciences of the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences and starting the new department Earth system modeling at Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon. I also lead the Ocean Biogeochemistry Group at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. Learn more about my research plans here.

Ongoing climate change is essentially a CO2 problem. It can only be solved by strong decarbonization measures drastically cutting CO2 emissions. Thereby there are fundamental uncertainties in our understanding of how the carbon cycle and feedbacks change. I directly address this one of the most pressing problems of our time through my research. My research interests lie primarily in the area of the ocean carbon cycle, its variability and predictability on decadal time-scales, as well as its impacts on Earth’s climate via the climate-carbon-cycle feedbacks on centennial to millennial time-scales.

My research philosophy has been to address these topics with Earth system models (ESMs) enabled by interactive carbon cycle. In this way, variations in atmospheric CO2 concentration are computed prognostically and are directly modulated by the land and ocean carbon sinks. By resolving carbon-climate feedbacks, such approach enhances the realism of ESM simulations and better informs on their uncertainties. It furthermore allows computing how climate and carbon sinks respond to changing emissions during decarbonization and provide a direct link between policy changes and the Earth system.

Together with research students and post-docs in my group, as well as with external collaborators, I address knowledge gaps in our understanding of the following research questions:

I contribute to advancing the international climate science as co-Chair of the Working Group on Coupled Modeling of the World Climate Research Programme.

I am actively recruiting PhD and MSc students, as well as postdoctoral researchers under the broad themes listed above. Specific projects are usually advertised separately. Do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss potential projects!