Nature breathes, just as we do. Biodiversity and climate change are inextricably linked, for example through the exchange of water, energy, CO2 and aerosol particles. These interactions are the reason why biodiversity and climate change are directly linked to societal factors such as land use and energy production, but also to indirect factors such as the appreciation of nature and our market-oriented economy. Breathing Nature aims to build bridges between biodiversity, climate and socio-economic processes.

Farbfoto: Vogelperspektive auf einen Mischwald mit vielen vertrockneten und kahlen Bäumen zwischen einzelnen grünen Bäumen.

Breathing Nature
in 50 Seconds

The planned Breathing Nature cluster investigates the interconnectedness of climate change and biodiversity and their complex interactions with human behaviour.

Breathing Nature: Linking biodiversity, climate and human activity

Climate change and biodiversity loss are two of the most pressing challenges facing humanity. Breathing Nature addresses the complex interactions between these two crises. These interactions are symbolised by the metaphor that nature is breathing: energy, water, gases, and particles are continuously exchanged between the biosphere and the atmosphere. Human behaviour can drive or also mitigate biodiversity and climate change.

Causal connections and feedback loops

Despite the obvious links between biodiversity loss and climate change, these crises are typically studied and addressed in siloed approaches. Breathing Nature will move beyond the singular perspectives on these challenges to effectively address the interconnectedness of climate change and biodiversity, placing their complex interactions at the heart of the analysis of human behaviour.

Biodiversity, climate and human behaviour

enlarge the image: Computer graphics: Illustration to show the interplay between nature (represented in the picture by some trees, an owl and different layers of soil, sun, clouds and rain) and on the other side man and his actions (symbolised in the picture by an aeroplane, three smoking factory chimneys, three human figures and two satellites). All picture elements are connected by three circular arrows to symbolise the cycle.
Climate change and biodiversity loss are directly related to societal factors such as land use and energy production. Image: Friederike Arndt, Formenorm

Interdisciplinary research

The cluster’s research design is based on several challenges and open questions in three research areas:

Breathing Nature will discover, measure and model the mechanisms underlying the Connectivity between biodiversity and climate change, taking into account the interaction with human behaviour.

  • Which exchange processes lead to amplifying or mediating feedbacks between the climate system and biodiversity dynamics?
  • How do biodiversity and climate change affect human behaviour at the level of individuals, groups and organisations, as well as macroeconomic processes, and how is behaviour in turn altered by these?

Policy targets for biodiversity and climate change have not been met. Why aren’t they being met and what is the role of biodiversity-climate change nexus in this? Breathing Nature will explore the Agency and Responsibility of individuals and groups as actors in the context of these changes.

  • How can their responses to the interconnected crises be explained and predicted?
  • What difference do their activities make, and how can alternative courses of action best be modelled and communicated?
  • Is it a game changer if specific causal responsibility can be demonstrated?
  • How can markets and economic frameworks be designed to contribute to the sustainable use of nature?

Breathing Nature will explore alternative Futures for humans and nature through the analysis of new land use approaches and the development of innovative models that seek to link atmospheric, ecological, and socio-economic dynamics.

  • What transformative changes in response to biodiversity and climate change can simultaneously mitigate biodiversity and climate change for human benefit?

Integrative cluster structures

The Exploring Breathing Nature scientific integration platform will enable cross-cutting exploitation of experimental, observational, and modelling capabilities. The consortium will use innovative artificial intelligence methods in combination with model-data synergies and quantitative behavioural data to advance our knowledge of the climate-biodiversity-society nexus and enable syntheses. Dedicated funding and cross-disciplinary mentoring of early career researchers will enable an active and vibrant interaction of the entire consortium, aiming to create a diverse working environment with full equality of opportunity and support mechanisms for all researchers.

In addition, Breathing Nature will specifically aim to train a new generation of internationally competitive, cross-disciplinary experts in the field of interlinked climate-biodiversity change and related social and economic transformation through the Breathing Nature Open School. We will embrace transfer and outreach as key components, including schools, to engage the next generation as a key to our long-term impact.

Portraitaufnahme Prof. Dr. Johannes Quaas

Our spokesperson on his research

Professor Johannes Quaas, a meteorologist and spokesperson of Breathing Nature, gives an insight into his research. Click on the settings icon for English subtitles.

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