The present concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is higher than in the past 420,000 years or maybe even in the past 20 million years, and it continues to rise. The primary causes are fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. Globally, the land biosphere (excluding the part subject to deforestation) takes up 30% of the fossil fuel emissions and thus is presently reducing the speed of anthropogenic climate change. Yet our understanding of this carbon sink, which is mainly located north of the Tropics, its partitioning between Europe , North America , and Asia , its controlling mechanisms and its vulnerability to changes in climate and land management are still uncertain. Coupled climate models indicate that, in the near future, carbon (C) release from existing C pools in the biosphere could be large enough to offset any attempts of technical CO2 emission reduction. Meeting the scientific challenge of establishing the full carbon budget of a continent with acceptable accuracy has also high political relevance because the Kyoto Protocol includes carbon sources and sinks in the terrestrial biosphere.
CarboEurope-IP aims to understand and quantify the present terrestrial carbon balance of Europe and the associated uncertainty at local, regional and continental scale.
The key innovation of the CarboEurope-IP is in its conception as to apply single comprehensive experimental strategy, and its integration into a comprehensive carbon data assimilation framework. The observational and modelling programme will run at unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. This will allow for the first time a consistent match of bottom-up and top-down estimates of the regional variation in carbon sources and sinks.
updated by Yvonne Hofmann,