Modeling the coupled exchange of water and CO2 over croplands

Marie Combe

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Croplands are a managed type of vegetation, with a carbon storage that is highly optimized for food production. For instance, their sowing dates are chosen by the farmers, their genetic potential is bred for high grain yields, and their on-field competition with other species is reduced to the minimum. As a result of human intervention, croplands are a major land cover type (roughly one fifth of the land area over Europe) and they experience a short growing season during which they exchange carbon and water intensively with the atmosphere. Their growth significantly affects the seasonal amplitude of CO2 mole fractions over the globe, interact with extreme weather events such as droughts and heat waves, and impact surface hydrology due to their water consumption. However, and in spite of their relevance, terrestrial biosphere models used in carbon cycle and atmospheric research often assume the phenology of croplands to be similar to the one of grasslands, and they also ignore the impact of crop management. This oversimplification is the motivation for this thesis. We focus on understanding and modeling the key surface and atmospheric processes that shape the cropland water and CO2 exchange, and the resulting impact on the CO2 mole fractions of the atmosphere overhead. We study these processes from the daily to the seasonal scale, for croplands of the mid-latitudes. In the end, we come with recommendations and a new modeling framework to represent the cropland CO2 and water exchange in the Earth System, weather and climate models.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Peters, Wouter, Promotor
  • Krol, Maarten, Promotor
  • Vila-Guerau de Arellano, Jordi, Co-promotor
Award date2 Dec 2016
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789462579255
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • carbon cycle
  • carbon dioxide
  • modeling
  • water
  • energy exchange
  • crop yield
  • grain crops
  • atmosphere

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