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

Lead Research Organisation: SRUC
Department Name: Research

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 (GHG) 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.
 
Description We have measured the net exchange of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from a cut grassland in SW Scotland. The project has also provided new evidence on the uptake of CO2 by grassland soils through the process of carbon sequestration. Data obtained from this project is helping to improve our understanding of processes controlling these emissions and our ability to represent them in process based models. This has led to the publication of three research papers that describe development of the DNDC model.
Exploitation Route Measurements of greenhouse hgas emissions from the Crichton research centre are currently being used to improve our understanding of the importance of spatial heterogeneity in generating emissions. A paper describing this work is currently under development. It has also led to the initiation of a new project on precision farming which uses the newly developed knowledge of soil processes to manage spatial variation in soil properties in ways that optimise productivity and minimise environmental risks. Experimental data is also helping to improve models of greenhouse gas emissions and our ability to extrapolate the findings of this research within the landscape.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment

URL http://www.greenhouse-gases.org.uk/
 
Description Information boards have been located on the farm where measurements of greenhouse gas emissions are being made at Crichton in SW Scotland. We have also organised a number of open days and stakeholder events decribing the research being undertaken. In 2014 a Masters student from the University of Edinburgh used the field experiment as a basis for her dissertation project. Knowledge generated from this project was used in evidence presented to the Committee on Climate Change in their review of Scottish Government targets fro greenhouse gas mitigation in Edinburgh on 20th January 2017, to a Scottish Parliamentary Committee in May 2017 and at a Royal Society meeting in October 2017.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Evidence on national greenhouse gas emission mitigation and targets given as oral evidence to the Committee on Climate Change in Edinburgh on 20th Jan 2017
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact SRUC has developed an integrated programme of research teaching and consultancy activities addressing the issue of measurement and mitigation of greenhouse gas measurement and mitigation. This work was promoted by the establishment of the Carbon Management Centre in 2011, bringing together related areas of work in livestock science, crop and soil science and economics. The outcomes of this work have been used to advise bodies such as the UK Committee on Climate Change on progress against policy targets. This in turn led to a large expansion of research effort in this area supporting research on GHG emissions from the agriculture and land-use sector with funding from Scottish Government, BBSRC, NERC, EU, CCC, DEFRA and the levy bodies. Work on emissions estimates has supported an economic analysis of opportunities for GHG mitigation through Marginal Abatement Cost Curves, which have fed into UK and Scottish carbon budgets.
URL https://www.theccc.org.uk/scotland/
 
Description Gave evidence to the Environment, climate change and land reform committee of the Scottish Parliament on Greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from the agriculture and land use sector in Scotland
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/environment-committee.aspx
 
Description Presented a talk on new approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from grassland soils to a group of agricultural advisors and farmers at SRUC in Edinburgh at a Sustainable Agriculture Workshop
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Development of the Impact of Grassland Management on the UK LULUCF Inventory
Amount £200,000 (GBP)
Organisation Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2016 
End 12/2017
 
Description Greenhouse gas removal from the atmosphere
Amount £1,669,275 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/P019463/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2017 
End 06/2021
 
Description Nitrogen Newton Fund
Amount £2,983,207 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 12/2019
 
Description Sustainable Agriculture Research and Innovation Club
Amount £773,320 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/P004628/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2016 
End 11/2020
 
Description Walsh Studentship 
Organisation Teagasc
Department Teagasc Food Research Centre
Country Ireland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution PhD supervision
Collaborator Contribution Provision of field site and supervisory team
Impact None so far
Start Year 2016
 
Description Conference on "Understanding the European Greenhouse gas budget: Towards supporting COP21, Royal Society, London, 8-9 March 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The first 1.5 days of the meeting will be a multidisciplinary exposition of current GHG research in the UK that will feed into discussions on future challenges and opportunities for
the UK in the global context. The second half-day is focused on providing accessible material and results that will help transfer knowledge to stakeholders.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.greenhouse-gases.org.uk/royalsoc2017
 
Description Invited talk to the Royal Society/Sackler foundation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A talk providing a broad overview of greenhouse emissions and uptake from agricultural activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Keynote presentation at the European Conference on Precision Agriculture in Edinburgh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A talk to the ECPA conference outlining the importance of spatial management of grassland soils to achieve desirable economic and environmental outcomes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://ecpa.expom.io/