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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Quantifying options of terrestrial carbon dioxide removal within Planetary Boundaries

Fabian is a doctoral student at the Department of Geography at Humboldt-University Berlin and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. His research is focused on analyses of biomass plantations as a climate engineering method and the associated effects on freshwater availability and land-system change as well as other Planetary Boundaries.

The continuing exploitation of Earth’s resources has led to the development of a concept of nine interacting Planetary Boundaries (PBs). It delineates a safe operating space for humanity. The boundary for climate change is one of three already overstepped PBs. To counteract its further transgression, the implementation of large bioenergy plantations with subsequent carbon capture and storage (BECCS) has been proposed as a method for terrestrial carbon dioxide removal (tCDR).


photo: Ethnographic jottings, Ruzana Liburkina

Fig.: Fabian Stenzel (Fabian’s working environment at PIK)


BECCS is essential for many future climate scenarios that limit warming to below 2 °C as required by the Paris Agreement of 2015. However, large bioenergy plantations require a lot of land and water for irrigation. It can be expected that BECCS will aggravate water scarcity, which is already pronounced in many regions. This will lead to further transgression of the PB for human freshwater use, e.g. by using an increasing amount of river flows that actually should be reserved for maintaining the aquatic ecosystems. Moreover, there is a need to understand whether and to what extent a possible further transgression of e.g. the PB for climate change would make it more difficult to stay within other Pbs.

Utilising a computer model of the biosphere and associated processes, it is possible to analyse the associated effects and feasibility.

Within the German Research Foundation (DFG) priority program (SPP) ”Climate Engineering: Risks, Challenges, Opportunities?” (SPP 1689), this work is integrated into the CE-Land+ project.

Fabian holds a Master’s degree in Geophysics from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (2015). Since September 2016, Fabian is part of the SPP 1689 of the DFG and writes his PhD thesis at PIK Potsdam and the HU Berlin. Prior to this, he worked as a research assistant for the Department of Geophysics at LMU and conducted research at the University of Sydney and Simula Research Laboratories in Norway.


photo: Fabian Stenzel


Fabian Stenzel, Doctoral Researcher
THESys Graduate Program
Phone: +49 331 288 2574
E-mail: stenzel@pik-potsdam.de