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Soil moisture controls on carbon cycle variability and drought impacts across scales

June 10 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

EESA invites you to our next “Climate Conversations” Brown Bag: Soil moisture controls on carbon cycle variability and drought impacts across scales


Low soil water availability is known to limit photosynthesis and the productivity and growth of plants. Satellite data are the main tool for monitoring photosynthesis across the globe. This provides important information ranging from local drought impacts on agriculture and forestry to a global understanding of the importance of water in driving the carbon cycle and the accumulation of anthropogenic CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. However, due to methodological challenges, information of soil moisture has not been factored into satellite-based photosynthesis estimates. This study shows that this omission is responsible for a substantial underestimation of local drought effects and year-to-year variability in photosynthesis and vegetation productivity by widely-used satellite products and that this leads to a general underestimation of drought impacts. This shortcoming can largely be resolved by better accounting for soil moisture using available data and models. A remaining challenge is to understand the role of plant access to water stored at depth, e.g. groundwater, in determining year-to-year changes in the global carbon cycle.


About the Speaker: Benjamin Stocker (Postdoctoral Researcher, CREAF, Barcelona, Spain)

I am a postdoctoral researcher at CREAF, Barcelona, Spain and a visiting scientist at Stanford University. My research aims at providing data-informed predictions of how land ecosystems respond to a changing climate, increasing CO2 and changes in nutrient cycles. I develop new predictive methods, constrained by the widest possible diversity of observational data and work at the intersection of Earth system science, ecophysiology, ecology, applied statistics, and high-performance computing. From September on, I will be an Assistant Professor at ETH Zürich as a Swiss National Science Foundation Eccellenza Fellow, focusing on plant growth and allocation responses to limitations by water and nutrients.




Sponsored by Prof. Trevor Keenan


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