Amazon Integrated Carbon Analysis / AMAZONICA

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Geographical & Earth Sciences


Amazonian tropical forests cover the largest forested area globally, constitute the largest reservoir of above-ground organic carbon and are exceptionally species rich. They are under strong human pressure through logging, forest to pasture conversion and exploitation of natural resources. They face a warming climate and a changing atmospheric environment. These factors have the potential to affect significantly the global atmospheric greenhouse gas burden (CO2, CH4), chemistry and climate. A central diagnostic of the state and changes of the land surface is its net carbon balance but currently we do not even know the sign of this balance. Although estimates of fluxes associated with known contributing processes such as deforestation exist, along with evidence for responses of undisturbed rainforests to a changing environment and substantial inter-annual fluctuations, different estimates vary widely. Thus it is very difficult to determine the overall significance of these independent estimates. The uncertainty of the greenhouse gas balances have also made it difficult to assess the realism of future model simulation predictions of the Amazon, some of them predicting alarming fates for the rainforests. Ultimately, the most stringent constraint on surface fluxes of a compound is its accumulation / depletion in overlying air. A major large-scale constraint on the net balance of the Amazon that would resolve the discrepancy in the various carbon flux estimates is therefore an accurate characterization of the 3D carbon cycle related tropospheric greenhouse gas concentration fields above the entire basin. Spatio-temporal concentration patterns can further be translated into surface flux fields using inverse modelling of atmospheric transport. By incorporating the large amount of existing on-ground data on ecosystem functioning from LBA, the RAINFOR network, and the ongoing TROBIT NERC project / and targeted measurements where knowledge gaps remain - into a coupled land-surface land-ecosystem model, we will develop a properly data-grounded model representation of the system. Further, the model will be tested by comparing its predictions with observed atmospheric concentration patterns. In turn this will permit defensible projections of the future of Amazonian vegetation. Human activity climate interactions and the land river link will also for the first time be included in these simulations. Therefore, we propose a project of 5 year duration based on the following five pillars: 1. To obtain large-scale budgets of greenhouse gases top-down, based on atmospheric concentration data and inverse atmospheric transport modelling. 2. To estimate fluxes associated with individual processes bottom-up, based on existing and new remote sensing information (deforestation and fires), tree-by-tree censuses in undisturbed forests, and river carbon measurements. 3. To use existing, and, where missing, targeted new, on-ground measurements of ecosystem functioning and climate response, in order to constrain land ecosystem and river carbon model representation, which will then be combined in an integrated land carbon cycle model. 4. To couple a fully integrated land carbon cycle model (from 3) into a regional climate model and use it (i) to predict current concentrations, and (ii) to calculate the systems response to a changing climate and human population, given a representative range of scenarios. 5. In a final synthesis step we will analyse and combine top-down (1) and bottom-up estimates (2&3) to develop multiple constraint and mutually consistent carbon fluxes over the four-year measurement period. We expect to obtain much better quantification of a major but currently poorly constrained component of the global carbon cycle, based on a new understanding of the underlying processes and their large-scale effect. The project will also provide much improved predictions of the response of the Amazon to future climate change.
Title Flux chamber 
Description I have been working with the artist Kate Foster ( to convey to the public that rivers degas CO2 to the atmosphere and how dissolved organic C moves in and is carried by rivers in dissolved form. We first created a field-based exhibition for an Environmental Arts Festival in 2015 ( and this has since expanded into the publication of a small booklet for an artists Bookmarket which took place in Edinburgh 24/25 February ( The booklet is now being sent to Geobus, who are helping with the Pathways to Impact on the fluvial karst grant and want to consider if it can be used in the art school curriculum. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact I cannot tell as am not in a position to follow through on impact but the artist will feed back to me over time. 
Description We have discovered that:
1. the age of carbon dioxide that is effluxed from rivers can be old and so must come from carbon that is stored in rocks and sediments.
2.the rate of carbon dioxide evasion from rivers is controlled primarily by how fast the water is moving and this response is comparable in rivers elsewhere globally as the Amazon
3. from a whole catchment C balance it cannot be concluded that this Western Amazonian site is a sink or a source and so in such sites stream C export is significant. The fate of C downstream then dictates the overall climate impact of fluvial export.
There is another paper about to be submitted that considers how much C is picked up rain falling onto trees and vegetation and then delivered to the soil, so another part of unravelling the C balance of this less-studied Amazonian site.
Exploitation Route By researchers wishing to constrain rates of C cycling in global C models using isotopes.
By those interested in full catchment C balance
Sectors Environment

Description The data has been used as part of a larger data set to consider what controls how fast carbon dioxide degasses from surface waters. I have been giving several public understanding of science talks in this area, with one of the most recent ones being "Science on Tap", hosted by the Chinese Academy of Science, Institute of Soil Science, in the Taicheng Library, inside the Old City Walls, in Nanjing, China on the 24th April 2018. Science on Tap is a China-wide campaign led by UK Research and Innovation, showcasing excellence in collaborative research between China and the UK. Alongside a great turn-out of local young scientists, the event was attended by numerous local media companies including Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp who filmed interviews and the talks. News articles were also released after the event from the attending journalists and there was a large coverage on social media outlets.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Title Using sensor to reconstruct in stream biogeochemical time series 
Description We used standard hydrochemistry time series to reconstruct in-situ C cycle determinands (as detailed in the 2017 JGR publication). This is still not particularly common 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Others will be able to adopt the same approach if they wish and be able to reconstruct an understanding of a fluvial system using quite cheap sensors 
Title CO2 efflux and hydraulic data for two Scottish and four Amazonian streams 2011-13 
Description The dataset contains CO2 efflux, hydraulic and water chemistry data from six field sites which vary in location, size and catchment characteristics. Measurements were made at: i) two sites in the UK - the River Kelvin (335 km2, semi-urban catchment) and Drumtee water (9.6 km2, peat dominated catchment); ii) four sites in the Peruvian Amazon - Main Trail (5 km2, seasonally active stream in a rainforest catchment), New Colpita stream (7 km2, perennial stream in a rainforest catchment), La Torre river (2000 km2, rainforest catchment) and Tambopata river (14 000 km2, rainforest catchment with some small scale agriculture and gold mining). CO2 efflux was measured at all sites on each sampling occasion alongside a range of other parameters to enable investigation into the controls on CO2 efflux. Parameters measured include flow velocity and water depth (from which other hydraulic parameters can be calculated), DIC concentration and pH (from which pCO2 can be calculated) and water temperature. Sampling was carried out over several years, thus capturing a range of seasons and flow conditions, and at all sites, measurement locations were chosen to ensure that a range of flow intensities were included. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Title Carbon and nutrient data for rainfall fractions in the Peruvian Amazon 
Description Aquatic carbon (dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and particulate organic carbon and the carbon isotopic composition of DIC) and nutrients (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, total soluble phosphorus and silica) in rainfall fractions (rainwater, throughfall, stemflow and overland flow) were sampled in the Western Amazonian basin. The samples were collected towards the end of a wet season April - May 2012. Rainfall and throughfall samples were collected in plastic buckets. Stemflow samples were collected using stemflow collection systems. Overland samples were collected using a a plastic pipe cut lengthways directing flow into a plastic bucket. Established standard methods were used to analyse the DIC, DOC and nutrients. These methods are outlined in the lineage. The samples were taken to understand the nutrient and carbon delivery in rainwater as well as leaching from tree canopies, stems and from the soil surface. The data collection was carried out as part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Amazonica project (NE/F005482/1). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Title Carbon and nutrient data for streams in the Peruvian Amazon 
Description Data from two small streams, two rivers and rainfall fractions in the Western Amazonian basin at Tambopata National Reserve in Madre de Dios region, Peru. Data presented are nutrients (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, total soluble phosphorus and silica) and fluvial carbon - dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and its isotopic composition d13C-DIC, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and particulate organic carbon (POC). Samples were collected during the period from February 2011 to May 2012 targeting both wet and dry seasons. Samples for DIC samples were collected using pre-acidified evacuated Exetainers. Established standard methods were used to take samples for DOC and nutrients. Established standard methods were used to analyse samples for DIC, DOC and nutrients These methods are outlined in the lineage. The samples were taken to understand the hydrological controls on the carbon concentrations and fluxes during different flow conditions. The data collection was carried out as part of the Natural Environment Research Council funded Amazonica project. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Title Water chemistry, hydrology and fluvial carbon data for two Amazonian small streams 
Description The data are concentrations of different fluvial carbon species (dissolved inorganic carbon, dissolved organic carbon and particulate organic carbon) which form part of the lateral transport of carbon from the terrestrial to aquatic system. This influences the terrestrial carbon balance as well as being a key part of the freshwater carbon cycle. The submission also contains hydrological (stage height, discharge and water temperature) and water chemistry data (pH, conductivity and oxygen saturation). The data were collected from Peruvian rainforest streams within the NERC funded Amazonica project (NE/F005482/1). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes