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.

Working Group Leader:

Prof. Dieter Gerten

Related Models


Related Projects

Project list

Research Objectives

  • Spatially distributed quantification of terrestrial planetary boundaries (PBs for freshwater use, land-system change, nitrogen flows, biosphere integrity) and their interlinkages, incl. enhanced boundary definitions
  • Configuration of LPJmL (increasingly coupled into the POEM model) as a ‘PB simulator’ representing (nonlinear) interactions among key processes underlying the PBs
  • Systematic studies of effects of PB transgressions on the status of respective other PBs and on society
  • Assessment of option spaces to stay within multiple PBs via e.g. improved crop/water management, negative emission technologies or diet shifts
  • Quantification of tradeoffs with other sustainability goals (food production, nature protection)
  • Generation of contextual policy- and business-relevant knowledge on safe operating spaces and science-based environmental targets