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

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Geography


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 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 C-Tessel, so that both generate 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 emissions 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 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 a 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 C-Tessel 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 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 material 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 developed a new method to combine satellite observations over the UK from different sensors, in an optimal way, to minimise the impacts of clouds, snow etc. This is providing us with a much-improved way of looking at surface change in the UK, which in turn is allowing us to say how the UK land surface, and the resulting GHG emissions, respond to climate and management.

In addition, we have collected 3D data over the Harwood Forest site, as part of the NERC-funded GHG Summer School 2015. Working with Forest Research we have shown that the standard forestry estimates of carbon stocks in this Sitka woodland, made using traditional allometric (size-to-mass) relationships, are probably an over-estimate. Our new measurements may help to understand why, and to develop new, more accurate allometric equations.
Exploitation Route Better estimates of forest carbon stocks by forestry professionals, as well as better understanding of carbon balance of UK forests more generally.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description We used the NERC GHG Summer School as an opportunity, to collect new 3D data on the Harwood Forest site. These data are proving useful to partners in Forest Research in assessing their forest allometry for this area. Training was given to students as part of the Summer School, were introduced to the type of measurements we can make with lidar technology. Lastly, the work has been used several times in outreach activities in schools, as part of general science talks.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Title EOLDAS surface reflectance 
Description An application of EOLDAS tools to surface reflectance data over the UK for assimilation into GREENHOUSE model estimates 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2013 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Improved estimates of satellite observations over the UK. 
Description Collaboration with EOLDAS 
Organisation University College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are providing new EO data products at high resolution over the UK, including agriculture and land use data.
Collaborator Contribution The European Space Agency EOLDAS (Earth Observation Land Data Assimilation System) team are providing expertise and tools to transform our satellite data into new, consistent EO products over the UK, which can be used by the GREENHOUSE modelling team.
Impact A new estimate of surface reflectance over the uk from multiple satellite sources. Conference papers reporting first results of this.
Start Year 2013
Description Harwood TLS 
Organisation Forest Research
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution To visit Harwood Forest and scan FR compartments, as part of GREENHOUSE summer school, but also to test allometric esitmates of biomass.
Collaborator Contribution Provide access and logsitical support for visit; data on FR allometric estimates.
Impact Scanned 3D dataset of Harwood compartment; independent estimate of biomass and test of FR estimates. Multi-disciplinary: forestry, remote sensing, ecology, climate.
Start Year 2014
Description Laser scanning blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Providing background and examples of my work in laser scanning for a wider audience. Has led to many media requests, school talk requests, participation in workshops etc.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
Description Schools visits 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Multiple schools visits including: Jubilee Primary School, Hackney; City and Islington Academy, Islington (GCSE and A-level); Bedford School, Bedford (across lower school and 6th form). In all cases I was invited to talk about my work in tropical forests primarily, to show the audience what tropical forests look like, how we measure them and why these measurements are important - in some cases to address specific curricular aspects such as climate, carbon cycle, photosynthesis, forests etc. In each case I have been invited back again.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016