BOIL 617 (Earth system modeling) focuses on modelling some of Earth’s system components and their complex mechanisms and interactions. It covers modelling aspects of nutrient cycling, such as C, N, P, and S within the earth components based on a few mechanistic models. For example, we use LPJ GUESS and CLIMEX (mechanistic and semi-mechanistic models). Further, this unit covers some essential and globally known correlative species distribution models (SDMs) that enable us to simulate climate change response of different Taxa (Fauna and flora at a single species level and group of C3, C4 plants) over time and space.

Why this unit mainly focuses on vegetation modelling? It is because plants play critical functions in the biosphere, regulating biogeochemical cycles and providing the primary source of oxygen for all animal life via photosynthesis. Moreover, plants provide habitat and an energy source for other taxa and are critically important for the world economy (for example, primary production, forestry, pharmaceuticals and ecosystem services such as water yield and climate regulation are all intimately related to plants). Vegetation science and plant conservation also have critical applications in various issues such as biodiversity conservation, land degradation control, endangered species protection, sustainable forest management, fire management and weed control.

This course allows PhD candidates to select their course-related favourite topic as a project, including energy resources and the environment, natural hazards, prediction and risk assessments, agriculture and global change. During the course, PhD candidates will try to digest and criticize scientific papers (20 articles) orally and in writing (summarising and presenting the results to the entire class + writing a lit review).