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Department of Geography


GREENCYCLES: Biogeochemistry and Climate Change Research and Training Network

This is an archived project page.

Welcome to the GREENCYCLES website

Human society is currently struggling to understand the potential consequences of anthropogenic perturbations to the climate system caused by emissions of the greenhouse gases CO2, CH4, and N2O. The Earth system is complex, yet it is critical that we reduce uncertainties concerning its future evolution in order to anticipate mitigation and adaptation needs. On the timescales of interest, the biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nitrogen are largely controlled by biotic processes, and therefore it is believed that biological feedbacks will play a key role in determining future climate change. However, understanding the details of these biological processes, and incorporating them into global models, remain significant challenges.

The GREENCYCLES Biogeochemistry and Climate Change project, an EC-funded FP6 Marie Curie Research Training Network (2005-2008), coordinated by Andrew Friend, is a direct response to this challenge. The GREENCYCLES project aims to improve our understanding of the biological controls on the growth of atmospheric greenhouse gases through a collaborative research programme across 13 European research laboratories. The network also has the important aim of training the next generation of Earth system scientists by sponsoring and supervising 13 PhD student projects and 5 post-doc projects. These projects are organised into six key science objectives:

  1. Quantify feedbacks in the global carbon cycle
  2. Determine the effects of changing land use on climate
  3. Improve understanding of natural sources of CH4 and their responses to human activities
  4. Quantify impacts of climate change and climate variability on fire-induced emissions of greenhouse gases
  5. Quantify impacts of climate change on terrestrial and oceanic biogenic emissions of aerosols and chemically active gases, and their effects on tropospheric chemistry
  6. Quantify impacts of vegetation and climate changes on atmospheric dust, and its feedbacks on CO2 and climate

Examples of publications arising from the network

  • Bondeau A et al. 2007. Modelling the role of agriculture for the 20th century global terrestrial carbon balance. Global Change Biology 13, 679-706.
  • Ciais P et al. 2005. European-wide reduction in primary productivity caused by heat and drought in 2003. Nature 437, 529-533.
  • Friend AD et al. 2007. Fluxnet and modelling the global carbon cycle. Global Change Biology 13, 610-633.
  • Friend AD et al. In press. Photosynthesis in global-scale models. In: Photosynthesis in silico: Understanding complexity from molecules to ecosystems. Laisk A et al. (Eds). Springer Series “Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration”. Springer (Dordrecht, The Netherlands).
  • Le Page Y et al. 2008. Global fire activity patterns (1996–2006) and climatic influence: an analysis using the World Fire Atlas. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 8, 1911–1924.
  • López BC et al. 2006. Climatic signals in growth and its relation to ENSO events of two Prosopis species following a latitudinal gradient in South America. Global Change Biology 12, 897-906.
  • Loulergue L et al. 2008. Orbital and millennial-scale features of atmospheric CH4 over the past 800,000 years, Nature 453, 383-386.
  • Lourantou A et al. submitted. A detailed carbon isotopic constraint on the causes of the deglacial CO2 increase. Science.
  • Peñuelas J et al. 2007. Response of plant species richness and primary productivity in shrublands along a north–south gradient in Europe to seven years of experimental warming and drought: reductions in primary productivity in the heat and drought year of 2003. Global Change Biology 13, 2563–2581.
  • Schröter D et al. 2005. Ecosystem service supply and human vulnerability to global change in Europe. Science 310, 1333-1337
  • Sitch S et al. 2008. Evaluation of the terrestrial carbon cycle, future plant geography, and climate carbon cycle feedbacks using 5 Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVMs). Global Change Biology 14, 1-25.
  • Zaehle S and Friend AD. In prep. Coupled carbon-nitrogen cycle dynamics in the ORCHIDEE-CN land surface model I: Site-scale model evaluation and sensitivity to parameter estimates and forcing.