Disseminating science, research and technology GHG-EUROPE Greenhouse gas management in European land use systems | June 2010: Healthcare | | October 2011 |
Integrating Europe’s terrestrial climate science Approaches to climate change in Europe have often focused on a single ecosystem type or landGHG-EUROPE use sector, but a major new research project is integrating data streams to analyse the greenhouse gases (GHGs) balance. Dr Annette Freibauer highlights the project’s achievements to date Could you outline the project’s main integration of feedbacks with socioeconomic objectives? changes and EU climate and land use policies. GHG-Europe seeks to quantify the annual to Can you explain how GHG-Europe quantiﬁes decadal variability of all three major GHG – the annual to decadal variability of the carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – in carbon and GHG budgets for terrestrial terrestrial ecosystems in Europe. We want ecosystems? to separate the responses of GHG ﬂuxes to the variability in natural and anthropogenic GHG-Europe will make a step change in drivers. It is important to know which part of the quantiﬁcation of the European carbon the GHG balance can be managed and which and GHG budget in robustness, detail, part is driven by climate variability. Moreover, comprehensiveness and consistency in time, the most sensitive and vulnerable carbon pools spatial scales and across ecosystems. This will and GHG processes and the associated risks be achieved via a systematic, fully integrated of positive feedbacks with climate change in approach that combines multi-year, multi- the 21st Century will be identiﬁed. The ﬁnal site observations, a series of models with output of the GHG-Europe project will be different complexity and process coverage. The an assessment of the impact of post-2012 models are validated against the observations strategies and policies on future carbon pools we will be validating and improving a wide and are driven by a new, comprehensive, and GHG ﬂuxes in Europe, which will also range of sectoral models of agriculture and temporally- and spatially-consistent set of include economic and societal aspects. forestry, generic ecosystem models and data- driver ﬁelds for the period 1900-2010, and driven approaches with the observations and up to 2100 in scenario mode. Uncertainties By what means will GHG-Europe improve response functions. are systematically quantiﬁed and attributed the knowledge necessary for the prediction to error types and error propagation through of terrestrial carbon and GHG budgets across What observations are considered when measurements, space scales and model Europe? creating the models and how wide ranging parameterisation. are the sites? Our predictive capacity relies on the degree What do you hope this project will achieve in of mechanistic understanding as to how Measurements from more than 40 GHG ﬂux terms of impacting policy making? ecosystem processes react to changing measurement stations distributed across all pressures and interacting drivers and how European climatic regions and ecosystems The project results will provide quantitative much of this knowledge is incorporated in the are recorded in the GHG-Europe database. and qualitative new insights for a better carbon cycle and GHG models. GHG-Europe is Many more additional ﬂux data are integrated foundation of decisions in the international fully exploiting the available data streams by from previous European projects such as climate policy negotiations. GHG-Europe will data synthesis and integration of observations CarboEurope and NitroEurope and national provide the scientiﬁc basis for ‘factoring out’ and experiments from past and ongoing efforts. Together with spatial data on climate, natural variability and human management projects. We are ﬁlling gaps in knowledge and soil and land management they provide the effects on the GHG balance, which is at data by targeted measurements and detailed basis for model validation and integrated the heart of the international climate studies of land management impacts on GHG assessment. negotiations for the post-Kyoto regime. Thus, ﬂuxes in regions with speciﬁc transitions of we will quantify the possible contribution of land use type and management intensity We will assess the future vulnerability of agriculture and forestry to mitigate GHGs. The developing response functions from the carbon pools and risks of positive feedbacks results will also allow robust assessment of the data synthesis to quantify hotspots and hot in the climate-carbon system. This is achieved consequences of political choices in the post- moments of GHG emissions which are likely through novel ﬁngerprinting techniques to 2012 negotiations regarding baseline methods to be inadequately represented in widely identify critical drivers and situations, scenario and accounting rules for C stock changes in the applied carbon cycle and GHG models. Finally, analyses with biophysical models and the LULUCF sector. CHAMBER MEASUREMENTS (N2O, CH4) AT FARMLAND SITE, GERMANY
GHG-EUROPE Towards sustainable management of the carbon cycle Levels of GHG emissions in Europe are constantly in ﬂux because human and natural processes drive the complex eco- dynamics of the continent. GHG-Europe is a multidisciplinary project designed to help resolve this urgent question84 PER CENT of the European landmass is used and have to be accounted for. However, in for decisions on how to manage ecosystemsfor agriculture and timber production. Used in reality, soil, climate, land use and management to meet the growing demand for food, feedthis way, it has absorbed 13 per cent of fossil fuel have a complex interrelationship as the roots and bioenergy and at the same time to sustainemissions over the past decade; this net carbon of biological processes that produce or absorb ecosystem carbon stocks and minimise GHG‘sink’ is almost entirely mitigated, however, emissions. Project Coordinator of GHG-Europe, emissions,’ she underlines.by nitrous oxide and methane emissions from Dr Annette Freibauer, observes the complexityagriculture. The terrestrial biosphere, therefore, of the issue at the heart of the research ﬁeld: A COMPREHENSIVErepresents a complex interplay between AND INTEGRATIVE APPROACHgreenhouse gas (GHG) sinks and sources. As MAINTENANCEclimate change takes effect, this balance will WORK ON AN The project will use measurements from morebecome increasingly complicated: growing EDDY FLUX TOWER than 100 continental stations, distributeddemand for food and bioenergy will increase across all European climatic regions, to assessthe production of GHGs, and increasing timber the contribution of different land uses to thecutting will reduce this GHG sink, yet the sinks and sources of the three most signiﬁcantterrestrial biosphere will remain the strongest GHGs – carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide andmechanism we have for absorbing emissions. methane. The consortium’s scientists combineQuantifying how this interplay operates, and long-term measurements with new initiativesassessing to what extent GHG ﬂuxes can be to observe emissions in areas which have beenmanaged, will become ever more vital. GHG- little-researched to date. The team is studyingEurope is a consortium of European climate Mediterranean shrublands which frequentlychange scientists which seeks to improve face damage by ﬁre – a situation likely to worsenunderstanding of how GHGs are affected by with climate change – along with the heavilynatural and anthropogenic drivers, to assist the “Disentangling how much of the observed GHG under-researched forests of Eastern Europe.management of European ecosystems in our ﬂuxes are directly human induced by land use Intensive research projects in Finland and thechanging climate. and management, indirectly human induced Alps have been established to observe the by atmospheric nitrogen deposition, the CO2 effects of climate change on Northern latitudeAccording to the accounting rules of the Kyoto increase in the atmosphere or climate change, and alpine ecosystems. Europe’s peatlands areProtocol, GHG emissions from managed land and how much originates from the natural another crucial territory: as the largest carbonare either treated as natural or human induced ‘background’ processes remains one of the most reservoir in the European biosphere, they are challenging research questions”. The GHG- SONIC Europe project aims to address this complicated ANEMOMETER line of enquiry with new research methodologies AND OPEN PATH that will attribute GHG ﬂuxes to their drivers CO2 SENSOR and assess how much of this ﬂux is human- induced. Ultimately, the task is to determine how, and to what degree, the carbon cycle and GHG emissions in terrestrial ecosystems can be managed. Freibauer explains the aims of the consortium, which involves scientists from more than 40 European research institutions: “The GAS EXCHANGE CHAMBER objective is to generate the knowledge base
INTELLIGENCE PEATLAND SOIL PROFILEGHG-EuropeGREENHOUSE GAS MANAGEMENT INEUROPEAN LAND USE SYSTEMSOBJECTIVESTo improve understanding and capacity forpredicting the European terrestrial carbonand greenhouse gas budget.PARTNERS highly vulnerable to climate change and land EXAMPLE OF A SOIL COREvTI, Germany • LSCE-CEA/CNRS, France management impacts, yet existing information FROM A CLAYEY SITE• IIASA, Austria • MPI-BGC, Germany • is very uncertain due to poor data integrationUNIABDN, UK • UNITUS, Italy • VUA, and lack of ecosystem models. GHG-EuropeThe Netherlands • SDLO, The Netherlands aims to improve knowledge of these critical• NERC, UK • ETH, Switzerland • ICAS, areas by synthesising and amending existingRomania • INRA, France • PULS, Poland • research activities in natural, managed andHWST, Germany • UA, Belgium • CEAM, restored peatlands across Europe.Spain • UHEL, Finland • BFW, Austria •FEM, Italy • DTU, Denmark • ECN, The A major concern of the GHG-Europe project is this integration of existing projects and climateNetherlands • EFI, Finland • FMI, Finland • JR, models, since previous estimates of the EuropeanAustria • APB, Italy • RUG, The Netherlands • GHG balance have tended to concentrate onSLU, Sweden • SYKE, Finland • UCD, Ireland either carbon or nitrogen and often only one• FLD-UCPH, Denmark • UIBK, Austria • ecosystem type or land use sector. Freibauer either cancel out when integrating over largeUNIBO, Italy • UGR, Spain • WUR, The explains the consortium’s approach: “There is scales, or they contribute to large-scale biases”.Netherlands • UNIUD, Italy • UHEI-IUP, no single methodology to quantify GHG ﬂuxes The GHG-Europe project uses an integratedGermany • CNR, Italy • CTFC, Spain • UCLM, at all relevant spatial and temporal scales. Only approach to consistently upscale from site toSpain • CNRM, France • PIK, Germany an integrative, comprehensive approach that regional to continental scale, and is developing a combines the advantages of all approaches leads methodology to quantify this error in upscalingFUNDING to robust annual to decadal GHG balances from and downscaling. ecosystem level to the European continent”. TheEU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) – project will analyse a wealth of experimentalcontract no. 244122 data, long-term observations of carbon dioxide, THE CARBON CYCLE MANAGEMENT CHALLENGECONTACT nitrous oxide and methane ﬂuxes, meteorological observations and land use information, using The ultimate goal of the GHG-Europe projectDr Annette Freibauer a range of advanced data mining techniques is to determine how, and to what degree,Project Coordinator and state-of-the-art modelling approaches. It the carbon cycle and GHG emissions in synergises with existing European projects such terrestrial ecosystems can be managed. TheJohann Heinrich von Thuenen Institute of as NitroEurope IP, which analyses nitrogen and management challenge is to keep GHG ﬂuxesAgricultural Climate Research nitrous oxide budgets, CARBO-Extreme which across ecosystems, regions and continentsBundesallee 50 looks at the effects of climate variability and in balance, and to undertake climate changeD-38116 Braunschweig extremes particularly on soil carbon, and CC- mitigation strategies where appropriate.Germany TAME which develops tools for assessing EU Freibauer explains what these might be: “In policy effects on land use. croplands and grasslands soil carbon can beT +49 531 596 2634 managed by adequate amounts of organicE firstname.lastname@example.org GHG-Europe follows a strict systematic amendments, residue management and in protocol to unite and harmonise data, and will particular by maintaining permanent grasslandswww.ghg-europe.eu provide the fullest-possible picture to date of which sequester soil carbon. Sustainable forest the European biosphere’s balance of GHGs. management ensures high carbon stocks overANNETTE FREIBAUER is vice head of Knowledge sharing is the key, according to forest rotation periods. Substitution effects,the vTI-Institute of Agricultural Climate Freibauer: “The intensive integration of the eg. when wood replaces energy-intensiveResearch. Her research focuses on soil GHG-Europe project with researchers outside products or fossil energy, can override thecarbon and GHG dynamics in different land the project and the readiness of the European mitigation potential of carbon storage in forestuse systems (agriculture/forestry). She is a scientists to share data, analysis tools and ecosystems, particularly at longer time-scales”.member of the IPCC and advises on policies models, is a real strength”. Clearly, the land use sector must contributeregarding greenhouse gas mitigation in the its share to reducing GHG emissions, but the A project with such an ambitious remit – in biodynamics of ecological systems interactagricultural and forestry sector. both the scale and the integrated nature of with climate change in ways that are currently its approach – is naturally not without its not fully understood; as Freibauer observes: challenges. Translating local observations to “This makes climate change mitigation continental scales is one such challenge, as measures in agriculture, forestry and other Freibauer observes: “Scaling site observations land uses more complicated and uncertain to regions or continents, eg. with the help of than in any other sector”. In attempting to remote sensing and models, requires a careful improve our understanding of how natural analysis of their representativeness for these and anthropogenic drivers contribute to GHG larger areas. Particularly important is the spatial emissions – and in elucidating the ways in which scale of coherence in the error of the model used ecosystems respond to them – the GHG-Europe for upscaling: depending on this scale, errors can project will help to clarify that uncertainty.