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Ecophysiologist appointed Assistant Professor at EPFL and WSL

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24.09.2019  | Beate Kittl | News WSL 


How terrestrial ecosystems react to climate change is the research topic of Charlotte Grossiord of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL. She has now been appointed Tenure Track Assistant Professor at EPFL and WSL.


How does global warming affect plants - and thus the important functions and services provided for humans by ecosystems? Charlotte Grossiord, an ecophysiologist at WSL, has been investigating this question throughout her entire scientific career. In her doctorate at Lorraine University and INRA-Nancy in France, she explored how tree species diversity affects the water and carbon balance of trees. She focused in particular on the resistance of plants to extreme events. In her PostDoc at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the USA, Grossiord investigated how forests adapt to the exacerbation of droughts with higher temperature.

Charlotte Grossiord has been conducting research at WSL since 2018, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation's "Ambizione" funding program. She is investigating how trees react to a warmer and drier climate, and how the combination of different species could buffer its negative impacts. To do this, she exposes young trees to different environmental conditions in the WSL's 16 climate chambers. The experiments are combined with computer modeling, observations in natural ecosystems and data from national and international forest inventories. This way she tries to understand the effects of global warming on as many levels as possible: How does plant metabolism react, how does the interaction between individuals and species change in the forest, and how do reactions vary across continental or even global dimensions?

To continue and expand her research on these topics, EPFL and WSL have now jointly appointed her tenure-track assistant professor. For example, she and her new team intend to set up research plots near Lausanne to track forest condition in the long term, but also to conduct research in the WSL’s irrigation project in the Pfynwald, as well as in the climate chambers in Birmensdorf. The aim is to obtain as much information as possible about the forests' many services that are important for humans: clean water and air, wood production, CO2 storage, biodiversity, and recreation. This will enable the public and other stakeholders to make informed decisions about how to deal with climate change.

Starting March 1st, 2020, Charlotte Grossiord will head the WSL site in Lausanne. Her group will be part of the Research Unit Community Ecology.