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

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: Inst of Biological and Environmental Sci


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 Publications have been provided and outcomes used to inform spatial greenhouse gas accounting for the UK national greenhouse gas inventory
Exploitation Route Links with EMRWF Centre, Met Office, DECC and Defra. Used in a number of bids for follow on funding
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

Description Presentation at Royal Society meeting should see the results used by others, including Defra and devolved administrations
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Societal