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PhD Scholarship at University of Ghent

A new PhD position in accounting is available at University of Ghent. Candidates are welcome before June 15, 2020.

This position is opened at CAVElab (UGent) in the framework of the FWO research project: There’s no such thing as “The Tropical Rainforest”: incorporating heterogeneity of tropical forests in a global vegetation model.

CAVElab – The Computational and Applied Vegetation Ecology is a research unit at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering of Ghent University, Belgium. The research unit is studying vegetation dynamics, carbon and water cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. CAVElab has a broad interest in all types of terrestrial ecosystems, but currently has a strong focus on the ecology (ecology scholarships) of tropical forest ecosystems. Process-based vegetation modelling is the core research tool of the group, but the questions arising from the modelling work require dedicated field work activities. These field work activities are focused on improving uncertain process descriptions within vegetation models and on data-poor regions such as the Congo Basin.

Project – Tropical forests play an essential role in the global carbon cycle and climate system. These ecosystems, however, experience raising anthropogenic pressure, including the increase of drought and wildfires. Fire is an important disturbance to the global carbon budget and is directly and indirectly responsible for important changes in ecosystem productivity. In particular, fire plumes generate short-lived climate pollutants, including ozone and fine mode aerosols which have contrasting impacts on plant productivity: ozone reduces plant photosynthesis while aerosol could promote it by increasing diffuse radiation. In this project, we would like to investigate the impact of fire air pollutions (ozone and aerosols) on ecosystem productivity while accounting (fully funded accounting scholarships) for three-dimensional forest structure heterogeneity. To do so, we intend to enhance the representation of light interception in existing dynamic global vegetation models (ED2, JULES), using improved leaf and wood distributions in space and effective radiative transfer equations derived from more-detailed 3D models. The impact of ozone and aerosol loads will then be tested using long-term simulations in long-monitored sites and model predictions will be validated with three-dimensional light and photosynthesis measurements within a dense tropical forest site in central Africa in which continuous observations of ozone, diffuse light and ecosystem productivity are also tracked. Finally, unique improved simulations of regional forest biomass stocks and dynamics will be performed and the impact of tropical forest heterogeneity and air pollutants therein will be assessed.

For applications (send CV and application letter) or more information: Prof. dr. ir. Hans Verbeeck | hans.verbeeck@ugent.be | +32 (0)9 264 61 13 Application deadline: 15 June 2020| www.cavelab.ugent.be
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