Master thesis - Preindustrial land use change

Main supervision: Prof. Dr. Benjamin Stocker Co-supervision: Prof. Dr. Fortunat Joos, Climate and Environmental Physics, Universität Bern

Human land use and land use change (LULUC) has transformed the Earth surface and is contributing to the rise in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and climate change. In contrast to fossil fuel combustion, LULUC has potentially been an agent of Earth system transformation already before the Industrial period. Indeed, several prominent features in ice core records of the past 10,000 years have been linked to the rise and collapse of civilizations. However, establishing causal links and understanding the role of pre-industrial human societies in the Earth system has been challenging. Emerging past LULUC reconstructions combine insights from multiple disciplines (Archaeology, Earth system science, Land use Science and Geography) and provide a new basis for simulating impacts with Earth System Models. This is where you step in.

You will use the latest reconstructions of Holocene LULUC from the PAGES Landcover6K working group (, to run a set of global model simulations for evaluating impacts of pre-industrial LULUC on the terrestrial carbon balance.

This thesis is a great starting point for working with global Earth system and vegetation models and large spatial datasets, and for linking disciplines. Experience with programming is an advantage and your eagerness to learn a prerequisite. You may start as soon as you like.

Koen Hufkens
Koen Hufkens
Senior Scientist