Graham Sustainability Institute

Hydraulic Factors of Resilience of an Amazonian Rainforest

U-M Investigators

Valeriy Ivanov – Civil & Environmental Engineering


Rafael Oliveira – State University of Campinas

Project Summary

The Amazon rainforest plays a significant role in global water, carbon, and energy cycles. As this ecological system continues to change—the Amazon has lost 17% of its cover in the past 50 years—researchers want to better understand the critical factors regulating these cycles, and determine how those cycles may change under a projected future drier climate. The goal of a collaborative research effort between the University of Michigan and the State University of Campinas was to synthesize plant physiological and engineering types of expertise in observing and modeling plant water relations of rainforests. The collaborators developed a monitoring program to inform hydraulics-based numerical modeling of tree water uptake. They integrated data obtained at the individual tree scale to explain the controlling factors and hydraulic relations of evapotranspiration dynamics at the scale of a rainforest patch. The work strengthened research collaborations between the two universities, and it exposed plant physiology and engineering students to new methods, tools and techniques.

This project received a $10,000 UM-Brazil Sustainability Cooperation Grant in 2013.