Human activity is directly altering the earth system via atmospheric CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and land use and land cover change. These emissions result in feedbacks to the climate and to ecosystem functioning and sustainability. We need to better understand the impact of these environmental change agents on vegetation dynamics, carbon and water cycling in order to adapt to, or mitigate, the harmful impact of climate change and human activity on our environment and society. Addressing this issue is core to my research program.
In the MacBean Lab, our core research tool is process-based terrestrial biosphere modeling (TBM). Questions arising from the modeling work often require a more in depth understanding of the underlying ecosystem processes and further model improvements. Our approach to this is two-fold: 1) to develop, test and optimize TBMs within a statistical data assimilation framework; and 2) to use spatiotemporal data analysis to interpret field and satellite observations. Our work spans boreal to tropical forests, temperate to semi-arid grasslands and shrublands, and scales from ecosystems to the globe.