WP 6/7 - Coupled Nitrogen cycle

In this work package (WP) we want to enable a coupled simulation of reactive nitrogen and the greenhouse gas N2O in advanced climate models (Earth system models). This is important for planning a sustainable future and to manage the nitrogen and carbon cycles optimally as far as possible.

We will couple the various Earth system components of the nitrogen cycle (atmosphere, land, ocean) together. In order to achieve this, we first need to simulate a closed global nitrogen cycle for the pre-industrial situation. We will then perturb this pre-industrial state with anthropogenic nitrogen sources. An evaluation of our modelling efforts will be carried out to estimate the associated uncertainties.

Institutions involved: We have a number of Earth system modelling groups in WP6/7 that will carry out the coupling of the Earth system components for nitrogen (UiB, MetNo, CNRS-IPSL, MPG, MOHC), provide a simplified  transport scheme for reactive nitrogen from land to the ocean (ULB), and carry out an evaluation of the new simulations (SMHI, DLR).

WP Leaders

Christoph Heinze

Christoph Heinze

Professor (marine biogeochemistry),
University of Bergen (Norway)

I am a global marine biogeochemical ocean modeller and Earth system scientist. My research interest focus on the biogeochemcial cycling of carbon, oxygen, and nutrients within the climate context – past, present, and future.

In ESM2025

I am work package 6/7 co-leader. Further our group participates in WP3 of ESM2025. Our main interest in ESM2025 is to improve the simulations of the nitrogen cycling in Earth system models and in particular in the marine biogeochemistry model. We employ the Norwegian Earth system model version 2 (NorESM2).

Pierre Regnier

Professor (biogeochemistry & modeling of the Earth system), Univ. Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)

My research group (ULB-BGEOSYS) focuses on the biogeochemistry of carbon and nutrients, global CO2, N2O and CH4 cycling, modelling of land-ocean interactions and their integration in Earth system models.

In ESM2025

I am work package 6/7 co-leader. ULB-BGEOSYS contributes to WP2 by developing modules that allow for the representations of GHG emissions from inland waters and for the land to ocean carbon and nutrients fluxes in ESMs. For WP6&7, the group will help close the C-Nr cycles at the land-ocean interface, thus contributing to a new generation of fully coupled, boundless ESMs.

Milestones & Deliverables

Project start



MS6.1 – November 2021

Agreed protocol and scenario for XCA2 demonstration simulations

MS6.2 – November 2022

Forcing data compiled and harmonised (i.e. any new forcing not available from CMIP6 – e.g. anthropogenic CH4 emissions)

D6.1 – 31 May 2023

Report on the preliminary implementation and testing technical coupling of nitrogen cycle modules in ESMs

MS7.1 – 30 November 2023

Preliminary assessment of pre-industrial state/stability

MS7.2 – 30 November 2024

Demonstration runs with coupled ESMs delivery data to XCA2

D7.1 – 31 May 2025

Report on the effect of simulated interactive nitrogen cycle on the future Earth system projections

Project end