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DE-CO2 Report Summary

Project ID: 280061
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

Final Report Summary - DE-CO2 (Quantifying CO2 emissions from tropical deforestation to ‘close’ the global carbon budget)

The main goal of ERC 280061 was to better understand how deforestation emissions of CO2 have varied since 1950, using fire in tropical forests as a proxy. This information would then be used in an inverse analysis to better understand the global carbon cycle and more specifically the sink strength of oceans and land. One line of research was to better understand fire and deforestation dynamics during the satellite era. In that line of research we have shown the potential for using fire to understand deforestation and pointed towards the importance of not only deforestation but also degradation fires, which we have shown to emit equal amounts of greenhouse gases during the past decade as deforestation.
Another line of research was to extend the information from the satellite era back in time using novel proxies such as visibility which is impacted by smoke from fires. The publications from that line of research showed how deforestation in the Amazon was low until the 1980 after which emissions gradually increased until the mid 2000s. That information has also been used to construct fire emissions estimates globally for use in the next round of the IPCC climate assessment.
These new estimates of deforestation emissions contrast to some degree the information that has been collected based on country-level reporting. While our estimates highlight the emissions have increased over time, the current information available indicated that emissions were more leven. This has implications for the so-called CO2 airborne fraction in the sense that lower deforestation emissions early in the 1950s would lead to a negative trend in that airborne fraction, potentially implying that the efficiency of ocean and land sink has not decreased over time.

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