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About us Faculty of Science and Engineering PhD ceremonies

Monitoring and modelling European carbon fluxes using atmospheric observations

PhD ceremony:A.M. van der Woude
When:July 01, 2024
Supervisor:prof. dr. W. (Wouter) Peters
Co-supervisor:dr. I.T. Luijkx
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Science and Engineering
Monitoring and modelling European carbon fluxes using atmospheric

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are not only caused by human activities: plants sometimes take up CO2 (in summer) and sometimes release CO2 (in winter). The exact quantities of CO2 uptake and emission from plants depends on various factors. Auke van der Woude discovered during his PhD-research, that during the dry summer of 2022, plants allover Europe took up less CO2 than normal. So much less even, that the difference (for all of Europe) amounts to the total CO2 emissions of the Netherlands in one year. 

Van der Woude developed and utilised new methods to make the quantification of CO2 exchange faster and more accurate. He analysed the added value of potential atmospheric CO2 measurement locations and developed a model that can estimate carbon exchange with the atmosphere by plants and human activities with minimal delay, allowing for quick analysis of the events that are important for the carbon cycle, such as socioeconomic changes or anomalous weather. 

Van der Woude also developed a method to incorporate measurements of tree growth, along with measurements of CO2 in the air, into the estimates of plant CO2 exchange. The methods in this thesis contribute to better monitoring capacity of CO2 emissions and uptake across Europe. The analysis of the 2022 European drought, with reduced CO2-uptake, has potential consequences for climate plans that involve forests for CO2 uptake. 

See also: Extreme drought reduced carbon uptake by forests in Europe – plans to mitigate climate change through forests are vulnerable