Droughts (water stress) and extreme heat events (rising temperature and vapor pressure deficit (VPD)) can drastically reduce carbon uptake via downregulating photosynthesis, and can trigger tipping points such as widespread vegetation mortality. Researches into the mechanisms governing when, where and how trees die have revealed that plant xylem hydraulic traits are the predominant significant predictors of cross-sites and species patterns in drought response of ecosystem functioning. Specifically, water stress-induced declines in xylem water potential, deteriorates the hydraulic conductance of xylem tissue and forms embolisms that impair water transport, cascading a series of failures of key dependent processes (e.g., gas exchange, photosynthesis, phloem transport), leading to tissue desiccation and ultimately to vegetation mortality. Furthermore, plant hydraulics convolute with subsurface soil water/heat/carbon dynamics, which make the soil-water-plant-energy interaction an intricate topic.
Remote sensing of fluorescence and plant-hydraulics-based vegetation models are state-of-the-art approaches to monitor and predict drought responses of ecosystem functioning. In EcoExtreML project, you are expected to enhance/reinforce the coupling between the vegetation photosynthesis model (SCOPE) with the soil moisture/heat model (STEMMUS, considering dynamic root growth), synergized with Earth-Observation data, to understand how water-carbon dynamics of ecosystem vary with variable environmental and climate stress. You are expected to work with a multidisciplinary team, consisting experts from vadose zone hydrology, ecohydrology, remote sensing, big geodata analytics, machine learning, as well as eSciences.
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