Project properties

Title A sustainable future of Amazonia under global change
Group Water Systems and Global Change
Project type thesis
Credits 36
Supervisor(s) Bart Kruijt (
Examiner(s) Carolien Kroeze
Contact info Maria del Pozo (
Mengru Wang (
Begin date 2021/03/01
End date
Description Theme introduction

Amazonia and the way it affects regional and global climate is likely to suffer not only from deforestation, but also from climate-induced drought and temperature change. An important question is whether increasing CO2 concentrations will stimulate biomass growth, or at least increase forest resilience against other detrimental effects of climate change, as a result of its stimulating effects on photosynthesis and water use efficiency. However, also fact millions of people live in this huge region, many of them in big cities (>2 M inhabitants) and others along the rivers. These face big environmental problems, episodic floods and droughts, caused by deforestation and climate change. There are good indications that a bright, prosperous future is possible for the region, which is rich in ecosystem services (water, carbon, biodiversity), fish, energy and tourism opportunities.

Projects and possibilities for students

We want to explore possible future scenarios, including positive ones and explore potential new big, innovative and sustainable futures.

Students can take part in analysis on ecosystem services, ideally in collaboration with Brazilian students and researchers. They can collaborate on Brazilian studies on sustainable oil palm exploitation, small-scale energy generation in rivers, map the problems associated with low or high river levels and design adaptation options.

Additionally students can work on data from some big ecosystem experiments or even participate in them, on the direct effects of CO2, and climate change on Amazon forest, methods of e.g. scaling up canopy CO2 and water exchange from leaf to canopy, using and testing simple conceptual models (in e.g. SMART, Vensim, R), assess CO2 effects on water use and rainfall recycling, leaf/canopy temperature (modelling or methods to understand them in terms of energy balance/stomata), canopy microclimate, etc.

For some of the studies in this theme it is necessary for the student to (learn to) speak a little Portuguese. Establishing collaboration agreements and visa can take a long time so early preparation is essential.

Used skills Possible methods used in the thesis:
- Model conceptualization & development
- scenario analysis
- Data processing & analysis
- Field studies & experiments
- Case study alaysis
- Interviews, surveys & focus groups