Project properties

Title Impact of a changing climate, elevated CO2 concentration and nitrogen fertilization on the WUE and drought sensitivity of terrestrial vegetation
Group Water Systems and Global Change
Project type thesis
Credits 36
Supervisor(s) Bert van Hove (
Iwan Supit (
Bart Kruijt (
Examiner(s) Carolien Kroeze
Contact info Maria del Pozo (
Mengru Wang (
Begin date 2021/03/01
End date
Description Theme introduction

Global warming may increase photosynthesis and with that the transpiration rate in plants, thereby decreasing soil moisture content. On the other hand, the elevated CO2 level, induces a reduction in the stomatal opening which increases water use efficiency (WUE) and reduces the transpiration rate. With less water being taken up by plants, soil moisture content increases. So, interrelationships between the C cycle and the water cycle exert both positive and negative feedbacks, with the net feedback effect depending on different environmental factors that limit primary productivity, such as light, nutrients and water. This might have consequences at larger scales.

In addition to global warming and increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration, we see a world-wide N enrichment of the environment, due to increased fertilizer application, increased N deposition and inflow of mineral N via surface water and groundwater. This may have important consequences for the vegetation response to global warming and elevated CO2 concentration.

Projects and Possibilities

Within this theme you can study the effects of higher temperatures and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration on plant water-use (Water Use Efficiency), soil moisture, and sensitivity of plants to water-stress (Bert van Hove, Bart Kruijt, Iwan Supit). In addition, the impact of nitrogen fertilization on the vegetation response to climate change and elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration can be studied (Bert van Hove).

Within these topics, students can do scenario analysis (climate data analyses), analyses of observational data, and perform model simulation and simple conceptual model developments. Analysis can both be done on a global and regional scale. Furthermore, there is the possibility to do fieldwork.

Used skills Possible to use:
Model conceptualization & development
Scenario analysis
Data processing & analysis
Field studies & experiments
Case study analysis