Most of my work is aimed at predicting rhythmical changes in vegetation growth, i.e. vegetation phenology, using cheap imaging sensors (PhenoCams). The rhythmical timing of vegetation phenology is intimately linked to yearly variations in weather and long-term changes in climate. Not only does the seasonal development of vegetation serve as an important climate change indicator, the seasonal plant carbon uptake also provides an important feedback to the Earth system.
African tropical forest drought
I’m interested in understanding the influence of drought on the productivity and species compositon of African tropical forests. I aim to use retrospective analysis of wood core stable isotopes, tracers and historical phenological and meteorological observations to reconstruct and model past vegetation responses to year-to-year variability in precipitation. A large part of this research is supported through the Jungle Rhythms crowd-sourcing project. A newly funded project, COBECORE, will provide matching climate data throughout the Congo basin supporting further spatial analysis. A more eco-physiological approach is taken in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action COBADIM, exploring a new tracer to facilitate retrospective dendrochronological research using a manipulation experiment.
I collaborate with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) where I designed the protocols for a cellphone camera based methodology to track crop growth and disturbance in the fields of smallholder farmers. This research supports index-based micro-insurance, to alleviate income variability for these farmers. The protocols and intermediate results have been published as an open access paper in Agricultural & Forest Meteorology.
I build robust research infrastructure as a software and hardware developer, to serve open and reproducibile scientific practices. My peer-reviewed scientific software, including R packages dealing with (remote sensing) data retrieval and model development, supports thousands of researchers. Furthermore I develop hardware protocols in support of large scale research activities such as the European Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) network and the International Food Policy Research Institute.