Quantifying, Understanding and Managing the Carbon Cycle in the Next Decades

Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena, Jena, Thuringia, Germany
Climatic Change (Impact Factor: 3.43). 12/2004; 67(2):147-160. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-004-3765-y
Source: OAI


The human perturbation of the carbon cycle via the release of fossil CO2 and land use change is now well documented and agreed to be the principal cause of climate change. We address three fundamental research areas that require major development if we were to provide policy relevant knowledge for managing the carbon-climate system over the next few decades. The three research areas are: (i) carbon observations and multiple constraint data assimilation; (ii) vulnerability of the carbon-climate system; and (iii) carbon sequestration and sustainable development.

Download full-text


Available from: Martin Heimann
  • Source
    • "The growing stock volume (GSV) of a forest, defined as the total volume of the stems of all living trees per unit area (m /ha), is often used for forest resource management and planning (FAO, 2004) and as a predictor of carbon-related variables such as above-ground biomass (AGB) and carbon stocks (Somogyi et al., 2008). Quantification of forest GSV and AGB is necessary to understand the spatial distribution of carbon in forests (Brown, 2002; Canadell, Ciais, Cox, & Heimann, 2004) and to derive prognostics for monitoring trends of carbon stocks (Kauppi, Mielikainen, & Kuusela, 1992; Fang, Oikawa, Kato, Mo, & Wang, 2005; Pan et al., 2011; Dolman et al., 2012; Nabuurs et al., 2013). Traditional approaches to estimate forest GSV rely upon field surveys by establishing plots that can then be combined to extrapolate estimates at stand, provincial or national levels (Tomppo, Gschwantner, Lawrence, & McRoberts, 2010). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This paper presents and assesses spatially explicit estimates of forest growing stock volume (GSV) of the northern hemisphere (north of 10°N) from hyper-temporal observations of Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) backscattered intensity using the BIOMASAR algorithm. Approximately 70,000 ASAR images at a pixel size of 0.01° were used to estimate GSV representative for the year 2010. The spatial distribution of the GSV across four ecological zones (polar, boreal, temperate, subtropical) was well captured by the ASAR-based estimates. The uncertainty of the retrieved GSV was smallest in boreal and temperate forest (< 30% for approximately 80% of the forest area) and largest in subtropical forest. ASAR-derived GSV averages at the level of administrative units were mostly in agreement with inventory-derived estimates. Underestimation occurred in regions of very high GSV (> 300 m3/ha) and fragmented forest landscapes. For the major forested countries within the study region, the relative RMSE between ASAR-derived GSV averages at provincial level and corresponding values from National Forest Inventory was between 12% and 45% (average: 29%)
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Remote Sensing of Environment
  • Source
    • "Hence, monitoring systems are needed to track conditions to identify problems before they manifest into serious and potentially irreversible consequences (). Monitoring is also useful for data assimilation and fusion techniques (Canadell et al. 2004;Raupach et al. 2005) to improve model forecasts adaptively over time. Much like smart bomb technology where corrections to trajectory are made based on changing signals from a target, data fusion and assimilation is a process where monitoring data are used to adaptively refine model predictions to become more realistic over time. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In the late nineteenth century and twentieth century, there was considerable interest and activity to develop the United States for agricultural, mining, and many other purposes to improve the quality of human life standards and prosperity. Most of the work to support this development was focused along disciplinary lines with little attention focused on ecosystem service trade-offs or synergisms, especially those that transcended boundaries of scientific disciplines and specific interest groups. Concurrently, human population size has increased substantially and its use of ecosystem services has increased more than five-fold over just the past century. Consequently, the contemporary landscape has been highly modified for human use, leaving behind a fragmented landscape where basic ecosystem functions and processes have been broadly altered. Over this period, climate change also interacted with other anthropogenic effects, resulting in modern environmental problems having a complexity that is without historical precedent. The challenge before the scientific community is to develop new science paradigms that integrate relevant scientific disciplines to properly frame and evaluate modern environmental problems in a systems-type approach to better inform the decision-making process. Wetland science is a relatively new discipline that grew out of the conservation movement of the early twentieth century. In the United States, most of the conservation attention in the earlier days was on wildlife, but a growing human awareness of the importance of the environment led to the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act in 1969. Concurrently, there was a broadening interest in conservation science, and the scientific study of wetlands gradually gained acceptance as a scientific discipline. Pioneering wetland scientists became formally organized when they formed The Society of Wetland Scientists in 1980 and established a publication outlet to share wetland research findings. In comparison to older and more traditional scientific disciplines, the wetland sciences may be better equipped to tackle today's complex problems. Since its emergence as a scientific discipline, the study of wetlands has frequently required interdisciplinary and integrated approaches. This interdisciplinary/integrated approach is largely the result of the fact that wetlands cannot be studied in isolation of upland areas that contribute surface and subsurface water, solutes, sediments, and nutrients into wetland basins. However, challenges still remain in thoroughly integrating the wetland sciences with scientific disciplines involved in upland studies, especially those involved with agriculture, development, and other land-conversion activities that influence wetland hydrology, chemistry, and sedimentation. One way to facilitate this integration is to develop an understanding of how human activities affect wetland ecosystem services, especially the trade-offs and synergisms that occur when land-use changes are made. Used in this context, an understanding of the real costs of managing for a particular ecosystem service or groups of services can be determined and quantified in terms of reduced delivery of other services and in overall sustainability of the wetland and the landscapes that support them. In this chapter, we discuss some of the more salient aspects of a few common wetland types to give the reader some background on the diversity of functions that wetlands perform and the specific ecosystem services they provide to society. Wetlands are among the most complex ecosystems on the planet, and it is often difficult to communicate to a diverse public all of the positive services wetlands provide to mankind. Our goal is to help the reader develop an understanding that management options can be approached as societal choices where decisions can be made within a spatial and temporal context to identify trade-offs, synergies, and effects on long-term sustainability of wetland ecosystems. This will be especially relevant as we move into alternate climate futures where our portfolio of management options for mitigating damage to ecosystem function or detrimental cascading effects must be diverse and effective. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. All rights are reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013
  • Source
    • "The vulnerability of the ecosystems to climate change brings important consequences for the climate system, as ecosystem changes may release carbon into the atmosphere, hence amplifying global warming (Canadell et al., 2004), which is considered a negative vegetation–climate feedback. Land use changes, with increased rate of logging and mining in the forest areas could increase the vulnerability of the forest. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In Cameroon and elsewhere in the Congo Basin, the majority of rural households and a large proportion of urban households depend on plant and animal products from the forests to meet their nutritional, energy, cultural and medicinal needs. This paper explores the likely impacts of climate-induced changes on the provisioning of forest ecosystem goods and services and its effect on the economic and social well-being of the society, including the national economy and the livelihoods of forest-dependent people. The analysis focuses on four identified vulnerable sectors — food (NTFPs), energy (fuelwood), health (medicinal plants) and water (freshwater) through a multi-stakeholder dialog at national and regional levels. We use a vulnerability assessment framework by combining the elements of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity to conceptualize vulnerability in these sectors. The identified sectors in relation to the forest ecosystem are discussed in view of providing an understanding of the sector's potential adaptive capacities for policy intervention. Our analysis presents the possible implications of the vulnerability of these sectors for planning local and national adaptation strategies. Local and national adaptive capacities to respond to climate impacts in the orest sectors includes: reducing poverty, enhancing food security, water availability, combating land degradation and reducing loss of biological diversity.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Forest Policy and Economics
Show more