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KLIMAFORSK-Stort program klima

Quantifying climate and land use effects on continental-scale coupling of water and carbon cycles

Alternative title: Kvantifisering av effekter av klima og arealbruk på kontinental-skala kobling av vann og karbonsykluser

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

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Project Period:

2021 - 2027

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Climate change is touching our lives in different ways. One way is through the intensification of the climate. This results in heatwaves, droughts and flooding. The land surface plays an important role in determining the size and persistence of climate extremes. At the same time, we suspect that a changing climate also alters our soils more rapidly than we previously thought. This project explores such climate-soil feedbacks by examining, for instance how gradients in climate and the type of land use will effect water transport properties of and carbon storage in our soils, and how certain biotic or abiotic soil forming factors that are projected to change within the human time-scale will impact those properties the most, and how rapidly will such changes become measurable. The research project brings together international expertise with key elements in the USA and UK in addition to Norway. This is important to obtain a range of land use and climate data that will be collected and analyzed in the project. The international team will enable us to make full use of a combination of established and new survey data, networks of experimental sites across the EU and North America, a dedicated climate-chamber experiment and advanced computational analysis methods and simulation models. The project has been designed to help transform perspectives and build understanding and appreciation of soils being a dynamic, living medium that is susceptible to changes in climate and land-use, and help transfer that understanding into hydrological and climate modeling and the development of land use mitigation strategies at various scales across the globe.

Recent studies indicate that soil hydraulic properties (SHPs) are much more sensitive to changing climate than previously perceived responding on the order of years to decades. Because the interactions between abiotic and biotic processes that influence soil aggregation, soil organic carbon (SOC), and SHPs are complex, untangling the relevant processes most responsible for the observed changes in SHPs remains elusive and restricts their use in land-surface models. To reveal these mechanistic linkages in soil, we aim to test the umbrella hypothesis that Changes to climate (drought, freeze-thaw) and land use (woodland, grassland, or row-crop cultivated) generate feedbacks through plants and carbon that affect SHPs (infiltration, conductivity, and retention). Identifying the relationship between SOC and SHPs and its interaction with climate and land use remains a challenge which we will test through a number of research questions. To ensure our findings are transferable and widely applicable we use a multi-tiered approach that includes (1) a controlled lysimeter experiment to isolate the individual effects of two key climatic factors on SHPs, (2) collection of soil SHP data in Norway, the UK, and the US across gradients of climate and land use to illuminate the relevant interacting feedbacks, (3) leveraging continental-scale data that spans multiple biomes to identify the timescale upon which these changes in SHPs occur, (4) use of numerical techniques to better understand causal mechanisms and their implications for projecting water and nutrient fluxes, and (5) synthesis of gains from experimental and observational work and exploratory modeling to generate a knowledge base for future data exploration and improved climate and hydrological modelling. With complex climatic changes predicted worldwide at the decadal time scale, this project may benefit water and carbon flux assessments regionally and help address several key UN SDGs, primarily #13 and #15 globally.

Publications from Cristin

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Funding scheme:

KLIMAFORSK-Stort program klima