Compound events, e.g. drought and heat, can influence ecosystem activity directly, affecting plant functioning, but also indirectly by triggering ecosystem disturbances. These impacts are further modulated by forest condition and responses to long-term environmental change (e.g. elevated CO2). In addition, recovery from a given extreme can make ecosystems more vulnerable to additional hazards related with another extreme event, triggering a series of cascading effects that result in degradation trajectories and threaten ecosystem stability.

Understanding the processes controlling ecosystem responses to and recovery from extreme events, and how temporally and/or spatially compounding events affect ecosystem dynamics is crucial to anticipate potential threats to ecosystem stability under a changing climate. I will discuss challenges in quantifying direct and lagged impacts of extreme events on ecosystem functioning and present recent results trying to overcome these challenges based on observations and models. Finally, I will identify key needs to improve understanding on cascading ecological impacts from more frequent extreme events.


Ana Bastos leads the Climate-ecosystem-disturbance interactions group at the Department of Biogeochemical Integration (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry). She obtained her PhD in Geophysical and Geoinformation Science by the University of Lisbon in 2015. Her overarching scientific goal is to better understand inter-annual to long-term variability in the global carbon-cycle. To do this, her research bridges the disciplines of atmospheric science, ecology and biogeochemistry, from both observation-based and modelling perspectives. Specific topics include land-atmosphere interactions, the role of internal climate variability and ocean-atmosphere-land teleconnections in controlling carbon-cycle dynamics, the impacts of climate extremes on ecosystem functioning and ecosystem disturbance regimes.

She is currently co-leading the “REgional Carbon Cycle Assessment and Processes”, phase 2 (RECCAP-2) project, an activity of the Global Carbon Project aimed at improving our ability to constrain regional to national carbon budgets to inform the global stocktake process of the Paris Agreement. In 2022, she received the Early Career Scientist Award by the Biogeosciences Division of the European Geosciences Union and was granted an ERC Starting Grant to advance understanding about forest vulnerability to compound extremes under climate change.