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PhD defence

European-wide ecosystem responses and their vulnerability to intensive drought

  • Q. Chen
Wednesday 4 September 2024
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof.dr.ir. P.M. van Bodegom
  • dr.ir. J. Timmermans (TU Delft)


There is accumulating evidence for an increase in severe global drought events. In particular, Europe experienced several severe droughts in 2003, 2015, and 2018 (unprecedented in the past 2,110 years). Such droughts have caused serious and far-reaching impacts on terrestrial ecosystems. As droughts are predicted to become more prolonged and intense across wide regions in the coming decades, the risks to the human system as a result of the disturbed ecosystems worldwide will increase. To mitigate these risks, it is critical to prioritize the most vulnerable ecosystems and intervene on time. Thus, the understanding of ecosystem responses and their vulnerability to intensive drought needs to be developed. This thesis reveals European-wide ecosystem vulnerability based on ecosystem responses. With more frequent and severe droughts in the future, a wide range of ecosystems will become more vulnerable and may even collapse due to high mortality. This thesis provides several suggestions for timely early warning and intervention possibilities for vulnerable ecosystems. Moreover, this thesis demonstrates the potential of remote sensing in monitoring ecosystem responses. Combining remote sensing for early and comprehensive monitoring of ecosystems will provide new possibilities and critical information for future drought prevention and management.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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