Jamie Brown

Project: The combined effects of changes in land use/land cover and climate over Brazil on the hydrological cycle

Supervisors: Dr Rafael Rosolem and Dr Ross Woods

Abstract

Brazil holds at anytime between 12-16% of the entire world’s freshwater. It is the most water rich country in the world putting the country on economical, political and social agendas, worldwide. However, in recent years there has been an increase in droughts. The 2014-17 Brazilian drought affected over 50% of the population and is the worst recorded in the last 100 years. Understanding the consequences and mechanisms of the hydrological cycle is key for the implementation of successful climate mitigation and adaptation strategies worldwide. As the Brazilian landscape continues to change at an alarming rate, and the future of climate change points towards rising CO2 and temperatures, understanding these mechanisms become even more important to understand the future risk to water resources and hydrological extreme events. This project focuses on how key climate drivers affect the hydrological processes over Brazil using regional hydrological models.

The aim of the PhD is to understand how three key climate drivers can be more accurately modelled to assess future changes to Brazil’s hydrological cycle using regional models: (1) changes in “meteorlogical/climatological forcing” (e.g., precipitation, temperature), (2) “land cover/use changes”, and (3) the direct effects of atmospheric CO2 concentration particularly on vegetation (“CO2 physiological forcing”). The third driver (“CO2 physiological forcing”) is still largely unexplored in hydroclimatology despite the fact that its contribution can be as high as the “meteorological forcing”. The overall objective of this PhD research is to quantify the individual and mutual contribution of climate and land cover/use changes on key hydrological processes (e.g., evapotranspiration, runoff) associated with the future of Brazil’s water resources or the development of hydrological extreme events.

Background

Jamie is a PhD student on the WISE CDT PhD programme based at The University of Bristol’s School of Water and Environmental Engineering. Jamie graduated with a MEnvSci (Hons) in Environmental Science from the University of Sheffield in 2014. His first three years of study combined Physical Geography with Biology leading to his third year research project looking at vegetation genetic defence mechanisms under different climatic pressures. His Masters’ dissertation and research project focused on Palaeobiology and Palaeoenvironments during the Upper Carboniferous era.

After graduating Jamie worked in the Water Resources department for Essex and Suffolk Water (Northumbrian Water) for a year. On and off for the past 5 years, Jamie has also worked at Hydrology UK as an Assistant Hydrologist, and most recently, an Environmental Hydrologist. During his time at these companies, he was involved in a wide range of tasks based on forecasting the risks of drought to UK catchments by naturalising river flows over a 100year period.

Keywords: Tropical hydrology, hydroclimatology, CO2 and meteorological forcing, land use/cover change.