Where science unravels more and more physiological, physical and ecological processes, models can help to synthesise this knowledge in a consistent numerical framework. Also, when field experiments are impossible, unethical or excessively expensive, simulation experiments can be used to forecast the outcome of different treatments or climate scenarios.

The System Ecology group contributes to improving the ecological basis of the IPSL Earth system model (ESM) that has been used in the last IPCC Assessment reports on climate change. Students interested in contributing to this work are invited to contact Sebastiaan Luyssaert (s.luyssaert@vu.nl) to discuss the on-going studies and explore how they could contribute to this work.

Interns could focus on: (1) analysing existing observational datasets to unravel patterns and functions which can then be used to evaluate and improve model behaviour, (2) analysing existing model simulations to attribute simulated changes to possible drivers, (3) evaluating the performance of present and past model versions, or (4) develop models of ecological processes that could be added to the IPSL ESM.

Students are expected to like computers, enjoy writing code, and have a strong interest in numerical plant ecology. In return I can teach the tools of the trade by making use of state-of-the-art models that are used to inform policy makers and society as a whole concerning the drivers and effects of climate change.