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Greenhouse gas management in European land use systems

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Better greenhouse gas budgeting

A recent project has provided new data and methods to calculate improved future carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) budgets for Europe.

Climate Change and Environment

For the EU to mitigate the effects of climate change, policymakers need accurate estimates of carbon and GHG fluxes on the continent. A better understanding of how various parts of the European landscape release or retain GHGs would help this effort enormously. The 'Greenhouse gas management in European land use systems' (GHG EUROPE) project studied biogeochemical processes in ecosystems and how they respond to natural and human-induced climate change drivers. Project partners studied European forest, grassland, cropland, peatland and shrubland ecosystems. Scientists measured the annual and decadal variability of the carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) budgets of terrestrial ecosystems in Europe. The project also helped to understand the terrestrial carbon cycle and how drivers such as nitrogen deposition, land use and economic forces affect GHGs. Project members also examined the economic, societal and environmental impact of land-use and climate change policy on future CO2, N2O and CH4 fluxes in Europe. Data was collected and examined, and computer models were created for hotspots such as land-use changes and managed peatlands. Scientists also studied fire response processes in Mediterranean shrubland systems, and the effects of management activities on carbon stocks and growth rates in European beech forests. Forest and land-use models were used to create scenarios of land-use change by policy and market drivers. The models were used to run scenarios of future land-use change driven by increasing human demand for food, fibre and energy. GHG EUROPE has enabled researchers to create accurate GHG budgets in Europe for the first time. Further, the project has shown that consistent cross-sector land-use policies are important for decreasing GHG emissions. The project outcomes help scientists and decision makers to better predict the impact of natural and anthropogenic climate drivers on GHGs in Europe. This data will help researchers to manage the carbon cycle and GHG emissions in terrestrial systems and to undertake climate mitigation strategies.

Keywords

Greenhouse gas, carbon, climate change, land use systems, climate change drivers

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