CREAF Sala de Graus II. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona,
Barcelona España
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Link to access the online session

CREAF Talk with Charlotte Grossiord: Disentangling the impacts of atmospheric and soil droughts on forests

Friday, December 2, 2022 12PM (CET)

TITLE: Disentangling the impacts of atmospheric and soil droughts on forests

DATE: Friday 2nd December 2022.

TIME & FORMAT: form 12 to 1pm CET - In-person and online. 

Seminars will combine in-person and online formats (CREAF, Sala Graus II, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain) but in all cases, talks will be always streamed (not recorded), so they can be followed online. 

HOW TO CONNECT: direct link to Charlotte Grossiord's conference.


Disentangling the impacts of atmospheric and soil droughts on forests: Recent decades have been characterized by increasing temperatures worldwide, resulting in an exponential climb in vapor pressure deficit (VPD). VPD has been identified as an increasingly important driver of plant functioning in terrestrial biomes and has been established as a significant contributor to recent drought-induced plant mortality independent of other drivers associated with climate change. Despite this, few studies have isolated the physiological response of plant functioning to high VPD, heat, and soil drought, thus limiting our understanding and ability to predict future impacts on terrestrial ecosystems. In this presentation, I will discuss recent findings suggesting that high VPD and temperature can lead to a cascade of impacts, including reduced photosynthesis and growth as well as higher risks of carbon starvation and hydraulic failure, independently of soil moisture changes. I will further show how compensation mechanisms associated with shifts in phenology and species interactions may mitigate the negative impacts of combined atmospheric and soil droughts.


Charlotte Grossiord, an ecophysiologist at EPFL/WSL, has been investigating this question throughout her entire scientific career. Her research spans from biodiversity impacts on ecosystem functioning to understanding climate impacts on survival and mortality of trees. Charlotte’s research has made great steps forward in our understanding of plant responses to extreme conditions and on the significance of species interactions in forests. In her doctorate at Lorraine University and INRAE in France, she explored how tree species diversity affects the water 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, Charlotte Grossiord investigated how forests adapt to the exacerbation of droughts with higher temperature. Since March 2020, she is a joint tenure-track assistant professor at EPFL and WSL where she is leading the Plant Ecology research Lab PERL.