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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Local land use change and its relevance for small-scale moisture recycling in Colombian and Peruvian Amazon

Wei is interested in investigation of land-atmosphere interactions and their potential influences on people’s livelihood under climate change. She is now pursuing her PhD study at the Department of Geography, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

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Photo: A part of moisture recycling process, convective clouds on the Carribean Sea by Wei Weng

This project investigates land use change, with a special emphasis on agricultural land cultivation taking place in deforested areas of the Colombian and Peruvian Amazon and its potential feedback to the regional climate regime through the moisture recycling process. Land use options for local landscapes and their impacts on societies which are tele-connected by the “flying rivers” (aerial rivers for all preferential pathways of moisture flow) are discussed while bringing new insights into aspects of environmental and social sustainability.

Conducted following two phases, the project firstly investigates sensitivity of the study areas’ precipitation reception corresponding to upstream (in terms of flying rivers) areas’ evapotranspiration shift. The moisture recycling process linking the upstream areas and the study areas is calculated by a water balance model, the WAM-2layers (Water Accounting Model-two layers). The modelled result is then analysed using a complex network approach to calculate both direct and cascading recycling pathways for the study region’s dependency on upstream areas’ evaporation change. The second phase utilizes land use scenarios for research regions to investigate the effects of land use change on downstream hydrological regime via moisture recycling process and to analyse the trade-offs between the benefits brought by the development policies found behind each scenario and their impact on moisture recycling.

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Photo: A local farm situated nearby the Coastal Mountain Range. Shot in Hualien, Taiwan. By Wei Weng

Targeting local landscapes and stepping away from traditional watershed thinking, this study will provide a scientific concept for local land management to minimize the depletion of flying rivers which sustains ecosystem and communities. By illustrating the moisture recycling process links existing between regions, it also aims to stir up regionally collaborative movement to adaptive Amazonia facing future climate change.


Trained as a geographer (BSc) at National Taiwan University, Wei also holds a minor degree in Atmospheric Sciences. She completed her master’s study (MSc) in Water Science, Policy and Management at the University of Oxford, UK, in which she was introduced to both scientific and human aspects of water-related issues. She is now carrying out her PhD study at the Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).


photo: Feng-Tsai Weng


Wei Weng, Doctoral Researcher
THESys Graduate Program
Phone: +49 (0) 331 288-2646
E-mail: weiweng@pik-potsdam.de