Thesis subject

Interacting impacts of air quality and climate change on carbon sequestration

The Environmental Systems Analysis Group provides the possibility for students to do their thesis in collaboration with our group. This is one of many possible thesis subjects. Please feel free to contact professor De Vries and dr. Bonten (right) for more information.

Biomass production of forests and the related carbon sequestration is influenced by various drivers affecting net photosynthesis, including climate (i.e. temperature and precipitation) light, availability of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N) and other nutrients (P, Ca, Mg, K) and exposure to 'toxic' elements, including ozone (O3) and SO2. There is a lot of evidence for interaction between those drivers of carbon sequestration, such as: (i) elevated CO2 effects are limited at N limited systems. (ii) increased water stress, O3 levels and CO2 levels can all lead to stomatal closure, which reduces the exchange of gases, and in turn limits the damaging effect of ozone and the CO2 fertilization effect on photosynthesis etc.

Dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs) have been developed to assess changes in ecosystem structure and carbon sequestration into shifts in climate and CO2 concentration on a global scale, recently also including effects of N availability or ozone stress.

At present, there are, however, no models that include all the interacting effects of air quality and climate change on carbon sequestration although a first attempt is made at Alterra. The aim of this thesis or internship is to asses interactions between various drivers of plant production by:

  1. Performing an intensive literature study on results of experimental studies on the impacts of drivers
  2. If possible, making a database on results of those studies allowing more quantitative evaluations and
  3. Deriving empirical relations of the interacting effects of drivers for use in large scale models.

An internship at Alterra is also possible.

Read more about the project ECLAIRE, Effects of air pollution in interaction with climate change on ecosystem services.