Table of Contents

  • The Nordic project “Workshop on assessments of the national carbon budget within the Nordic region – Current status and sensitivity to changes” was financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Working Group on Climate and Air Pollution. The establishment of a new global climate agreement under UN climate convention (UNFCC) is a primary objective for the Nordic countries and to contribute to this objective is of highest priority for the Nordic Working group on Climate and Air Pollution.

  • In the Nordic Strategy for Sustainable Development an objective is “to work to stem climate change and help prepare our regions and the rest of the world for the changes that will be needed” (Nordic Council of Ministers 2009). To do that, it is essential to understand the carbon balance as this defines how emissions of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide and methane, from anthropogenic activities translate into concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and control important climate feedback mechanisms (Houghton et al. 2007). Estimating and mapping carbon sinks and sources are therefore major issues concerning also the agreements of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the Kyoto protocol. It is needed to ensure maximum cost effectiveness of actions taken to mitigate anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. However, surface exchange of greenhouse gases are highly affected by anthropogenic forcing (changes in land use and management) and climate forcing. Therefore, to understand and predict these impacts using models, it is important to quantify realistically how much carbon is taken up by the terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Thus, detailed knowledge of the exchange of the greenhouse gases between land, ocean and atmosphere is important, and the processes involved must be fully understood and accurately quantified. However, large uncertainties on the estimations of carbon exchange remain.

  • The international regulation of issues related to climate change, e.g. emission of greenhouse gases, is done within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). There are different requirements in terms of reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and only 37 countries have reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (KP). The reporting under the UNFCCC and accounting under the KP only includes anthropogenic emissions. For most activities this is straight forward such as fuel combustion, agriculture and waste treatment. However, when it comes to land-use and land-use changes, it is more difficult to assess which emissions/removals are anthropogenic.

  • To obtain a full understanding of the carbon balance and how greenhouse gases influence the climate at present and in the future, monitoring is needed. Monitoring carbon sinks and sources includes comprehensive experimental work across a wide range of ecosystems in the Nordic region covering both marine and terrestrial ecosystems. In session 1 “Observations of Carbon sinks and sources,” up-to-date findings of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) exchange between different types of ecosystems and the atmosphere as well as their biological and physical controlling processes were reported.

  • Within the research area of modeling the carbon cycle a wide range of research fields are present (Denman et al 2007). Many parameters influence the carbon cycle, thus it can be very complicated to model. Therefore, modelers have to decide on model complexity and model parameterization. The degree of complexity and parameterization is furthermore linked to the spatial scale of the model i.e. site specific, regional etc. Model wise the different spatial scales are connected by up– or down scaling; however the detailed description in site specific models might be parameterized in regional models. In Session 2 an introduction to some of the research fields within carbon cycle modeling were given starting with modeling of marine systems followed by terrestrial modeling both of forest and agricultural ecosystems, and concluded by regional modeling of the carbon cycle.

  • Remote sensing data have various applications to carbon balance modeling such as: model inputs, model validation, coordinating tools for mobile measurements, regional analysis, upscaling of local measurements, and several others (Anderson and Norman 2007, Rosenqvist et al. 2003, Turner et al. 2004). They all play important roles in regional and large spatial scale estimations, which cannot be discovered by only local measurements.

  • In order to assess the future evolution of the carbon cycle, scenarios are needed. In the framework of IPCC various climate scenarios have been conducted. They span a wide range in which the actual future climate change most likely will lie (Meehl et al. 2007, Moss et al. 2010).

  • As part of the Danish project ECOCLIM (Ecosystems Surface Exchange of Greenhouse Gases in an Environment of Changing Anthropogenic and Climate forcing) a mesoscale model system is under development.

  • Multiple sensitivities and uncertainties exist in the field of research covering carbon budgeting in the Nordic Regions. During the workshop “Workshop on assessments of the national Carbon budget within the Nordic region – Current status and sensitivity to changes,” an important objective was to discuss these challenges and to improve the ways to communicate results and conclusions to policy makers. A discussion session covered five research areas; terrestrial carbon modeling, measuring terrestrial carbon fluxes, measuring and modeling marine and lake carbon, remote sensing and climate and land use scenarios. From this session and discussion throughout the workshop the following were agreed upon.

  • Workshop on assessments of the national Carbon budget within the Nordic region – Current status and sensitivity to changes, 20–22 March 2013, Roskilde University, Denmark.