Carbon Cycle & Climate Change – 4C (foresee)
One major challenge is to reduce the currently high uncertainty about how the carbon cycle responds to anthropogenic and biophysical drivers, including long-term effects of slow-responding processes of vegetation and soils.
The carbon cycle dynamically couples the biosphere, oceans and atmosphere, and links societal and biophysical dimensions of the Earth system. A Grand Challenge is to reduce wide uncertainty in the carbon cycle and its responses to anthropogenic and biophysical drivers, including long-term effects of slow-responding processes of vegetation and soils. This requires a combination of analyses of human behaviour and decision-making, empirical ecology and modelling, informed by studies of past ecosystems, using approaches across scales from the local to the regional and global.
Accurately quantifying and projecting changes in carbon balance, and accounting for links to other biogeochemical cycles (e.g. N and P), is central to understanding and projecting climate change and its impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity. This in turn provides a necessary basis for the design of mitigation strategies to sequester greenhouse gases from the atmosphere through land use and management interventions.