Generating Regional Emissions Estimates with a Novel Hierarchy of Observations and Upscaled Simulation Experiments (GREENHOUSE)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Geosciences

Abstract

The UK is committed to quantifying and managing its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG, i.e. CO2, CH4, N2O) to reduce the threat of dangerous climate change. Sinks and sources of GHGs vary in space and time across the UK because of the landscape's mosaic of managed and semi-natural ecosystems, and the varying temporal sensitivities of each GHG's emissions to meteorology and management. Understanding spatio-temporal patterns of biogenic GHG emissions will lead to improvements in flux estimates, allow creation of inventories with greater sensitivity to management and climate, and advance the modelling of feedbacks between climate, land use and GHG emissions. Addressing Deliverable C of the NERC Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Feedbacks Research Programme, we will use extensive existing UK field data on GHG emissions, supplemented with targeted new measurements at a range of scales, to build accurate GHG inventories and improve the capabilities of two land surface models (LSMs) to estimate GHG emissions.
Our measurements will underpin state-of-the-art temporal and spatial upscaling frameworks. The temporal framework will evaluate diurnal, seasonal and inter-annual variation in emissions of CO2, CH4 and N2O over dominant UK land-covers, resolving management interventions such as ploughing, fertilizing and harvesting, and the effects of weather and climate variability. The spatial framework will evaluate landscape heterogeneity at patch (m), field (ha) and landscape (km2) scales, in two campaigns combining chambers, tower and airborne flux measurements in arable croplands of eastern England, and grazing and forest landscapes of northern Britain.
For modelling, we will update two LSMs - JULES and CTESSEL- so that each generates estimates of CO2, CH4 and N2O fluxes from managed landscapes. The models will be updated to include the capabilities to represent changes in land use over time, to represent changes in land management over time (crop sowing, fertilizing, harvesting, ploughing etc), and the capacity to simulate forest rotations. With these changes in place, we will determine parameterisations for dominant UK land-covers and management interventions, using our spatio-temporal data.
The work is organized in five science work-packages (WP).
WP1: Data assembly and preliminary analysis. We will create a database of GHG flux data and ancillary data for major UK landcovers/landuses in order to calibrate and evaluate the LSMs' capabilities, and generate spatial databases of environmental and management drivers for the models.
WP2. GHG measurement at multiple scales. We will deploy advanced technology to generate new information on spatial GHG processes from simultaneous measurement from chamber (<1 m) to landscape (40 km) length scales, and on temporal flux variation from minutes to years.
WP3. Earth observation (EO) to support upscaling. EO data will provide: i) driving data for LSM upscaling, from flux tower to aircraft campaign scales; and ii) spatial data for testing LSM outputs at these larger scales.
WP4 Upscaling GHG processes. Firstly, the two LSMs will be updated to allow the impacts of management activities on GHG emissions to be simulated, with calibration against an array of temporal flux data. Then, we will use the LSMs to model the fluxes of GHGs at larger spatial scales, based on a rigorous understanding of how the nonlinearity of responses and the non-Gaussian distribution of environmental input variables interact, for each GHG, using all available field data at finer scales.
WP5 Application at the regional scale. The LSMs will upscale GHG emissions for both campaign regions (E. England, N. Britain) using 1-km2 resolution simulations with a focus on the airborne campaign periods of 4 weeks. We will determine how regional upscaling error can be reduced with intensive spatial soil and land management data.

Planned Impact

To exchange knowledge with policy makers and land managers, we will host a workshop to explain the novel science outputs relating GHG emissions to managed landscapes, with attendees from a range of government departments, governmental organisations, NGOs and agricultural and forest industry bodies. We will also provide evidence at the relevant Westminster and Holyrood Parliamentary committees and for the Scottish ClimateXChange. We will disseminate our research findings to land managers at UK and European land management conferences. An improved understanding of the linkage between landscape management and GHG emissions will be used to develop improved advice on mitigation to UK farmers and land managers.
To put our science in a global context, we will host a science workshop on measuring and modelling GHG emissions in managed landscapes, inviting our international partners. To generate links to climate modelling groups, we will work closely with UKMO and ECMWF to upgrade JULES and CTESSEL for their applications.
Our work will be of interest to those members of the public concerned about climate security and land management. We will engage with local communities around our research sites, to explain our activities and to learn more about local perspectives. We will create press releases, a website and use social media to communicate with the wider public.
We will contribute to the development of a more scientifically literate population through relating our research and core concepts in environmental science to school teachers and pupils. Teaching material will be developed based on our data, emphasising our cutting edge technology (e.g. our aircraft), at the relevant level and to fit with the relevant strands and learning outcomes of the Curriculum for Excellence. Material developed here can also be shown at the Edinburgh International Science Fair.
To summarise, we will use the press, a project website and social media for broad dissemination of data. We will make presentations to local UK communities during field campaigns. We will host two workshops with involvement of academic and non-academic project partners. We will create new materials and activities with schools, and present at a Science Fair. We will provide evidence to parliamentary committees, report to DEFRA, DECC and NGOs.

Publications


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Bloom AA (2016) The decadal state of the terrestrial carbon cycle: Global retrievals of terrestrial carbon allocation, pools, and residence times. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America


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Chew YH (2014) Multiscale digital Arabidopsis predicts individual organ and whole-organism growth. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America







 
Description The development and integration of number of measuring systems on the School of GeoSciences research aircraft has been at least part funded (especially in terms of staff time) by this project. These include a meteorological system, to measure the temperature, humidity and pressure, as well as turbulence; a gas analysis system, measuring methane, carbon dioxide and water at very high precision in real time; and a bag sampling system allowing us to bring samples back to the lab for analysis of all sorts of chemicals of interest to climate scientists. These systems provide us with unique capabilities to explore the exchange of greenhouse gases between the land surface and the atmosphere, and hence to test and develop our large scale models of the processes involved.

We have developed capacity to calibrate our carbon cycle model for managed forests, using earth observations, forestry data, and ecological measurements. We have produced a 1 km resolution analysis of UK forest carbon cycling for 2000-15. This analysis integrates soil maps of C, land use data from the Forestry Commission, satellite estimates of leaf area index and biomass, and climate with a model of C dynamics. Maps are produced with clear estimates of uncertainty. A similar activity at 0.5 degree resolution for Great Britain has estimated C cycling using similar inputs, and successfully validated against independent data from tall towers.

Working with the larger team, we are producing high resolution maps of N2O emissions from agriculture. These emission maps build on high resolution model outputs of soil temperature and moisture, linked to maps of N inputs (organic and inorganic), crop type, and soil type. The outcome is a robust analysis of emissions likelihoods.
Exploitation Route The developed systems form a long term capability on the School's research aircraft that is available to the wider scientific community through the NERC Recognised Airborne GeoSciences Facility.
Our C modelling allows assessment of regional UK carbon balance in managed systems (e.g. UK) with quantified uncertainty, with value for land managers and for greenhouse gas accounting.
Our N2O modelling allows detailed assessment of patterns of N2O emissions across the UK, with value for policy makers in determination of mitigation strategies.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
URL http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/sidecar/airborne-geosciences/instrumentation/measuring-systems/
 
Description As well as working towards the project flight campaigns, the developed aircraft systems have been used in University teaching programs at undergraduate level. Our forest model system is contributing to a TSB grant, working with SMEs to develop biomass production services for the energy sector. Our forest model system is contributing to an industry led activity supporting improved forest management in six tropical countries, linked to UK Space Agency.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Education,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Cultural
 
Description DataLab
Amount £90,000 (GBP)
Organisation Scottish Government 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Description Global Challenges
Amount £110,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 01/2017 
End 01/2018
 
Description IPP
Amount £1,141,000 (GBP)
Organisation UKSA 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 12/2016 
End 11/2019
 
Description International Partnership Space Programme
Amount £141,250 (GBP)
Organisation UKSA 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 06/2015 
End 03/2016
 
Description Newton
Amount £300,000 (GBP)
Organisation Met Office 
Department Met Office
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2019
 
Description SARIC
Amount £513,215 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 12/2016 
End 11/2020
 
Description The Data Lab/GSi
Amount £99,012 (GBP)
Funding ID UoE/GSI/TDL 
Organisation Scottish Government 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 03/2016 
End 03/2017
 
Description Greenhouse Gas Summerschool 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Summerschool brought with 25 graduate students from around Europe to spend a week in Edinburgh. Students engaged in research, spoke at length with project staff, and shared their own research experiences.

We generated a new network of young researchers to engage with on a range of greenhouse gas science topics. We also created new links among the project staff from the different domains (atmosphere, ocean, land)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.greenhouse-gases.org.uk/news/35-summer-school-2015
 
Description Greenhouse Gas Townhall Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions and Feedback Programme organised a 'Greenhouse Gas Townhall Meeting' at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton on 7th-8th January 2015.

We organised this meeting for the UK GHG scientific community to exchange ideas and identify concrete key needs for future greenhouse gas research in the UK, and to explore opportunities and developments in related national and international activities like ICOS.

The meeting combined open science sessions with networking, workshops and breakout discussions as first steps towards developing community documents that can be submitted to the NERC SPAG and other relevant agencies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.greenhouse-gases.org.uk/events/stakeholder-meeting-12-march-2014
 
Description Greenhouse gases at the Edinburgh Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We counted 3499 visitors to our presentations. There was considerable interaction with the public, who were able to take part in experiments, and discuss their findings with staff from the University of Edinburgh.

We do not have any follow up activities to gauge the longer term impact of our presentations, but we are confident we generated interest in geosciences, and passed on detailed knowledge of greenhouse gases.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.greenhouse-gases.org.uk/blog/28-greenhouse-gases-at-the-edinburgh-science-festival
 
Description High school science engagement, Edinburgh 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The students worked with real scientific data, and our tutors engaged the students in the discovery process.

The school teachers reported positive feedback from the students, and praised the opportunity provided.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Stakeholder workshop for NERC Greenhouse gas programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We generated a report from the meeting, integrating the science outputs planned and achieved, and their relevance and value to stakeholders from government and business

Since the meeting, we have developed further conversations with DECC and Defra, and with some of the businesses that attended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.greenhouse-gases.org.uk/news/29-report-from-the-stakeholder-meeting-12-march-2014