Assessment of the European terrestrial carbon balance

June 10, 2004

Brussels, 09 Jun 2004

Title: Assessment of the European terrestrial carbon balance -

Acronym: CarboEurope -

Project summary: The overarching aim of the CarboEurope-IP is to understand and quantify the present terrestrial carbon balance of Europe and the associated uncertainty at local, regional and continental scale. In order to achieve this, the project addresses the three major topics:

1. Determination of the carbon balance of the European continent, its geographical patterns, and changes over time. This is achieved by

(1) executing a strategically focussed set of surface based ecological measurements of carbon pools and CO2 exchange,
(2) further enhancement of an atmospheric high precision observation system for CO2 and other trace gases,
(3) execution of a regional high spatial resolution experiment, and
(4) integration of these components by means of innovative data assimilation systems, bottom-up process modelling and top-down inverse modelling.

The key innovation of the CarboEurope-IP is in its conception as to apply single comprehensive experimental strategy, and its integration into a comprehensive carbon data assimilation framework. It is solving the scientific challenge of quantifying the terrestrial carbon balance at different scales and with known, acceptable uncertainties. The increase in spatial and temporal resolution of the observational and modelling program will allow for the first time a consistent application of a multiple constraint approach of bottom-up and top-down estimates to determine the terrestrial carbon balance of Europe with the geographical patterns and variability of sources and sinks.

2. Enhanced understanding of the controlling mechanisms of carbon cycling in European ecosystems, and the impact of climate change and variability, and changing land management on the European carbon balance. This is achieved by

(1) the partitioning of carbon fluxes into their constituent parts (assimilation, respiration, fossil fuel burning), at local, regional and continental scales,
(2) the quantification of the effects of management on net ecosystem carbon exchange based on data synthesis, and
(3) the development, evaluation and optimisation of ecosystem process models.

3. Design and development of an observation system to detect changes of carbon stocks and carbon fluxes related to the European commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. This is achieved by (1) atmospheric measurements and a modelling framework to detect changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the time frame of a Kyoto commitment period, and
(2) the outline of a carbon accounting system for the second Commitment period based on measuring carbon fluxes, stock changes by soil and biomass inventories, vegetation properties by remote sensing, and atmospheric concentrations.

Additional project information: Project website Max Planck Inst. for Biogeochemistry (Jena)

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