The terrestrial carbon and water cycles are two interconnected key processes in the Earth system. Past, ongoing and likely future changes in climate and land use have been, are and will be affecting the terrestrial carbon and water cycles, which in turn will feed back on climate.
The Alps are a hot spot of climate and land use changes. Over the last century, temperatures appear to have increased in the Alpine region with a rate double that of the global average and are expected to continue to rise at high rates. In addition, precipitation changes in the Alps are highly complex with a trend of increasing and decreasing precipitation North and South of the Alps, respectively, and highly uncertain future projections.
Given past, on-going and projected changes in climate and land use and the fact that the carbon and water cycles of mountain ecosystems also provide several important ecosystem services to mankind (e.g. provisioning of food and fiber, climate regulation, regulation of surface runoff and protection from natural hazards), several groups have started long-term research activities that seek to quantify the cycling of carbon and water between various types of mountain ecosystems and the atmosphere. At present, there are around 30 of these field laboratories in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Germany, where the ecosystem-atmosphere exchange of carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor is or has been measured on a long-term basis using the eddy covariance method along with ancillary data. Up to date, no synthetic study exploiting this rich data basis has been conducted and in particular not for projecting mountain ecosystem carbon and water cycling to likely future climatic and land-use conditions.
The overarching objective of the present proposal is to fill this major research gap and to quantify and project the resilience and vulnerability of ecosystem carbon and water cycling in the Alps to likely future changes in climate and land use. To this end we propose a model-data fusion approach which (i) exploits the rich available data basis from around 30 field laboratories in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Germany, (ii) employs a process-oriented approach for modeling the carbon and water cycles of mountain ecosystems, which will be calibrated with a state-of-the-art Bayesian inversion framework and (iii) makes use of the newest generation of regional climate and land-use scenarios for (iv) projecting mountain ecosystem carbon and water cycling under likely future climatic and land-use conditions.
- Assoz. Prof. Dr. Georg Wohlfahrt (Institute of Ecology, University of Innsbruck)
- Dr. Erich Tasser (European Academy of Bozen-Bolzano, Institute for Alpine Environment)
- Drs. Claudia Notarnicola and Marc Zebisch (European Academy of Bozen-Bolzano -Institute for Applied Remote Sensing)
Autonomous Provinz of Bolzano/Bozen, South Tirol