Terrestrial Safe Operating Space (TESS)

Terrestrial Safe Operating Space (TESS)
Ecosystems, water and climate to be studied as one interactive whole. (c) David Mark / pixabay

About the working group

We study the dynamics and interactions of terrestrial planetary boundaries, including their improved definition, quantification, regionalisation and operationalisation. Research builds on our long-standing expertise in process-based coupled simulation of ecosystem dynamics, water, carbon and nutrient cycling, and land systems including biomass plantations with our internationally leading biosphere model LPJmL.

Research Objectives

  • Comprehensive, spatially explicit quantification of terrestrial planetary boundaries (freshwater use, land-system change, nitrogen flows, biosphere integrity) and their linkages (including links to climate change)
  • Configuration of LPJmL (increasingly coupled into the POEM model) as a ‘planetary boundary simulator’ representing (nonlinear) interactions among key processes underlying the planetary boundaries
  • Systematic studies of effects of boundary transgressions on the status of respective other boundaries and on human societies
  • Assessment of opportunity spaces to stay within the boundaries through e.g. better crop/water management or diet shifts, considering trade-offs with other sustainability goals
  • Generation of contextual policy- and business-relevant knowledge on safe operating spaces and science-based environmental targets