Parvathy Chandrasekhar, PhD Researcher (UNU-FLORES and TU Dresden)
As the demand for agricultural products and the occurrence of extreme weather conditions increase, the resources soil and water are more and more under strain. Thus, adaptive land use as a preventative element for soil and water conservation gains in importance. Planning of adaptation strategies is often based on the application of numerical models. With these models, the impact of hypothetical changes in land use under recent and changing climatic conditions on plant growth and water balance components can be estimated and evaluated. As a pre-requisite in existing models, soil hydraulic properties are seen to be temporally constant. However, previous studies have shown that soil structure and with it, the soil hydraulic properties change significantly as a result of land use and management. If the dynamics of soil structure are neglected, the uncertainty of model results increases. This could lead to incorrect planning and more resources-consuming land use.
In her dissertation project “Development of Models to Predict Land-Use-Induced Soil Pore-Space Changes and their Hydrological Impacts (SoilPoreDyn)”, Parvathy Chandrasekhar aims to predict the evolution of soil structure and hydraulic properties due to tillage and environmental stresses like precipitation events using an existing model. She obtained data sets from different climate regimes, soil types, and land-use, and evaluated the model for its suitability to predict soil structural dynamics. Soil hydraulic properties were also derived which can readily be used in current hydrological models. Her work lays the foundation for understanding and predicting the dynamics of soil structure due to natural and artificial stresses, to ultimately improve the modelling of water in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum.
In fulfilment of the requirements of the Joint PhD Programme in Integrated Management of Water, Soil, and Waste of UNU-FLORES and Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden), Parvathy Chandrasekhar will be defending her thesis entitled “Predicting Land-Use Induced Changes in Soil Pore Spaces and their Hydrological Impacts”.
The Joint PhD programme of UNU-FLORES and TU Dresden, launched in 2015, is embedded within UNU-FLORES’s nexus-oriented research agenda and the corresponding research interests at TU Dresden. The established PhD research projects, co-supervised by researchers from UNU-FLORES and TU Dresden, are designed to reflect nexus thinking on particular problems of environmental resources management focusing on water, soil, and waste. The programme is the first international PhD programme addressing integrated resource management in a truly holistic way.
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