This Theme in the National Centre for Earth Observation aims to understand the feedbacks between physical and biological processes involving the carbon cycle, in order to predict changes in carbon fluxes at the Earth's surface.
It's priorities are to:
- Combine satellite measurements of the Earth's surface and atmosphere with sophisticated models of the land and ocean that mimic life in these ecosystems
- Vastly increase knowledge of the role of fire in the carbon cycle
- Accurately account for the carbon balance in the tropics to provide strong support for the negotiations on the post-Kyoto Protocol, particularly regarding deforestation
- Provide complete tracking of carbon and water through land ecosystems into the atmosphere
- Deliver a better quantification of carbon sources and sinks in the oceans
- Understand shelf seas (the shallow seas surrounding the continents) which are rich in life and so draw down much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Other CO2 'hot spots' include the high latitudes: the Arctic and the Antarctic. Earth observation satellites can help establish the importance of these areas.
- Help build a high-resolution global, regional and UK carbon-monitoring system.