My main scientific interest is to study water resources in water-limited ecosystems and how climate change can affect water dynamics and water availability in those areas. Because evapotranspiration is the main component of the water balance under water limited conditions, during my PhD my main research objective was to develop and test regional evapotranspiration models specifically designed for semiarid conditions to achieve an accurate methodology to quantify evapotranspiration at regional scale. Working with physical models forced me to understand those factors controlling the evapotranspiration, and how those factors will be be affected by climate change. To validate evapotranspiration models I learnt and used the Eddy Covariance technique, the most extended methodology to measure water, carbon and energy fluxes between the land surface and the atmosphere. After my PhD I moved to New Mexico (US) where I studied the consequences regarding to water resources of widespread piñon mortality events affecting large areas of piñon-juniper woodlands in the Southwestern US. At UBC I have joined an international project called FuturAgua, focused on the characterization of water resources in a drought-affected area of Costa Rica, Nicoya peninsula, and the development of resilience strategies to drought in a dynamic social-ecological system. Particularly my participation in the project will be focused in improving our understanding of water dynamics in the area and water use in the agricultural sector. I will also collaborate to develop a hydrological model to predict the response of local water resources to predicted climatic scenarios. 

Publications

Warnock D.,  Litvak M., Morillas L., SinsabaughR. (under revision) Drought-induced piñon mortality alters the seasonal dynamics of microbial activity in Piñon-Juniper woodland. Soil Biology and Biochemistry

Serrano-Ortiz, P., Oyonarte, C., Pérez-Priego, O., Reverter, B.R., P. Sánchez-Cañete, E., Were A., Uclés, O., Morillas L., Domingo, F. (2014) Ecological functioning in grass–shrub Mediterranean ecosystems measured by eddy covariance. Oecologia.

 Morillas, L., Villagarcia, L., Domingo, F., Nieto, H., Uclés O., García, M. (2014)Environmental factors affecting the accuracy of surface fluxes from a two-source model in Mediterranean drylands: Upscaling instantaneous to daytime estimates. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.

Morillas, L., Leuning R., García, M., Villagarcía, L., Serrano-Ortiz P.,  Domingo, F. (2013) Improving evapotranspiration estimates in Mediterranean drylands: the role of soil evaporation. Water Resources Research.

Morillas, L., García, M., Nieto, H., Villagarcia, L., Sandholt, I., Gonzalez-Dugo, M.P., Zarco-Tejada, P.J., Domingo, F. (2013) Using radiometric surface temperature for energy flux estimation in Mediterranean drylands from a two-source perspective. Remote Sensing of Environment.

Garcia, M., Sandholt, I., Ceccato, P., Ridler, M., Mougin, E., Kergoat, L., Morillas, L., Timouk L., Fensholt, R., Domingo, F. (2013) Constraints to Estimate Evapotranspiration in water-limited ecosystems from In-Situ and Satellite Data. Remote Sensing of Environment.