Thursday, March 25, 2021 - 12:00pm
Lawrence Fellow, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Carbon accumulation in land under rising CO2
Land ecosystems sequester on average about a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions every year. The fate of this ecosystem service is however highly uncertain, with climate models projecting both positive and negative trends this century. I synthesize findings from elevated CO2 experiments to quantify the potential of plants and soils to store carbon with future levels of CO2. My results suggest that forests still have room for further growth with elevated CO2, though the magnitude of this effect is three times lower than previously thought. In addition, I found a trade-off between plant and soil carbon storage, whereby putting more carbon in biomass results in a decrease in soil carbon storage. I will also highlight the importance of grasslands in helping to draw down carbon from the atmosphere. My data-driven results challenge previously held assumptions about the carbon cycle and can be used to improve climate projections and guide natural climate solutions.
César Terrer is a Lawrence Fellow at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Stanford affiliate. He obtained his Ph.D. in Ecosystem Ecology and Climate Change from Imperial College London, where he started working at the interface between experiments and models to better understand the effects of elevated CO2 on vegetation. Dr. Terrer’s research has advanced our understanding on the effects of CO2 in terrestrial ecosystems, the role of soil nutrients in a climate change context, and plant-soil interactions. Synthesizing observational data from CO2 experiments and satellites through meta-analysis and machine-learning, César has found that microbial interactions between plants and soils play a major role in the carbon cycle at a global scale, affecting the speed of global warming. His research has been recognized internationally with the Peccei Award from IIASA as an exceptional young scientist and DOE’s Recognition and Awards Program.
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