Research

Research group

Plant and Ecosystems (PLECO) - Ecology in a time of change

Expertise

  • My research focuses on how different environmental factors influence carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems and how changes in these ecosystems feed back to the climate system. Terrestrial ecosystems currently mitigate climate change by sequestering about 30% of human CO2 emissions, but this buffer against climate change is threatened by environmental changes such as warming and droughts. On the other hand, it is becoming increasingly clear that, in addition to strong emission reductions, we will also need to extract extra CO2 from the atmosphere - we will need to realize negative emissions - in order to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees. Ecosystems offer many opportunities to achieve such negative emissions. Some of these are: (re)afforestation, addition of biochar to agricultural fields, bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), and accelerated weathering of silicate rocks (enhanced weathering). However, these nature-based solutions still require much research and development to identify their potential and to determine the most sustainable and effective way of implementation. On the one hand, I study the fundamental processes that determine carbon cycling in forests, grasslands and other ecosystems. Through experiments and database analyses, for example, we examine how warming, drought and other environmental factors influence plant growth. In addition, we recently started a new line of research on negative emission technologies to study, among other things, the carbon storage and side effects (on plant growth and nutritional value of crops) of two negative emission technologies/nature-based solutions: biochar and enhanced weathering. Teaching: - I teach the part 'global change' in the course 'Meteorology, climatology and global change'. - I founded and coordinate the university-wide, interdisciplinary elective course on climate change

Projects

You can find here all of the projects that are recorded in the research database of UAntwerp under the name of the academic staff member that acts as a promoter, copromoter or grant holder (a.o. FWO). It concerns only those research projects and mandates that were acquired after an external or internal competition.