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Full greenhouse gas balance of a short rotation coppice (SRC) plantation of poplar

Periodic Report Summary - GHG-POPFULL (Full greenhouse gas balance of a short rotation coppice (SRC) plantation of poplar.)

In order to enable the use of poplar plantations for carbon sequestration and fossil fuel replacement, it is necessary to accurately assess their uptake / release of all major greenhouse gases. It is also seminal to analyse the effect of other greenhouse gases, such as ozone, on the productivity and on the gas exchange of these plantations. Poplar is sensitive to ozone damage which decreases CO2 uptake and limits the advantage of the use of this plant species for carbon sequestration. The effect of O3 on other non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions from a poplar plantation is unknown.

This research represents the first study to perform such a complete and detailed analysis. Overall, the investigation of CO2, H2O, CH4, N2O exchange and of the environmental variables (water table, soil moisture, precipitation, air and soil temperature, etc.) in the poplar plantation performed in this project provides a more comprehensive and accurate assessment of the environmental controls of the major greenhouse gases emissions and their sensitivity to climate change. This knowledge undoubtedly plays a major role in future policies for carbon sequestration adopted by governments nationally and internationally.

The plantation has been established in April 2010 and is being maintained for 4 years during which greenhouse gases exchange are being measured. At the end of the rotation cycle (2014), the entire plantation will be harvested and the total biomass production and energy accounting will be determined by several researchers in the PLECO-team group. Their biomass calculation will be integrated with the greenhouse gas budget derived from the gas flux measurements proposed here. This allows estimating a complete budget of the carbon sequestration potential of the SRC and its potential for energy production.

In conclusion, the exhaustive investigation of this project provides extremely valuable information about the complexity of the mechanisms responsible for emission/uptake of the most important greenhouse gases (CO2, H2O, CH4, N2O, O3), and their environmental controls, never investigated so comprehensively before.