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Carbon Exchange in Mountainous Regions. NACP Breakout Session I Wed. 18 Feb 2009, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm Terrace Salon Three Chair: Ankur Desai, U. Wisconsin. Background. Large ecosystem pressures in North American Mountain regions Rapid climate warming at high elevation

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carbon exchange in mountainous regions

Carbon Exchange in Mountainous Regions

NACP Breakout Session I

Wed. 18 Feb 2009, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Terrace Salon Three

Chair: Ankur Desai, U. Wisconsin

  • Large ecosystem pressures in North American Mountain regions
    • Rapid climate warming at high elevation
      • Increasing drought length and severity
      • Changes in intensity/frequency of fire
      • Increase in range of pests and invasives
    • Land use change from forestry and population growth
  • Poor constraint on biogeochemical cycling in mountains and complex terrain in general
    • Untested assumptions that high elevation NEE is near 0
    • Yet, mountains contain significant fraction of forest in U.S.
    • Methodological limitations for flux towers, remote sensing, ecosystem models, inversions, inventories, and ecological methods
  • Challenges
    • What is the state of the science on mountain carbon exchange?
    • What is our predictive ability on ecosystem responses to large-scale disturbance, climate range shifts, and elevation specific processes?
  • Opportunities
    • What are the opportunities for NACP to improve observations, models, and decision support in North American mountain regions?
  • Ankur Desai, UW-Madison, Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences
  • Jeff Hicke, U. Idaho, Geography
  • John Bradford, USFS Northern Res. Station
  • Brian McGlynn, Montana State
  • Diego Riveros-Iregui, U. Colorado
  • Betsy Failey, U. Colorado
  • SudeepSamanta, Woods Hole Research Center
  • Don McKenzie,USFS / U. Washington
  • Terrain creates a compression of environmental gradients
    • Makes interpolation/upscaling particularly difficult
    • But easier to assess effects of gradients in drivers in experimental studies
  • Disturbance strongly interacts with terrain
    • Fire, pest, species spread are all elevation sensitive
  • Lateral processes can matter more than in flat areas
    • Hydrology has an overarching role in carbon cycling in terrain. 1-D ecosystem models are likely to miss this.
  • Mesoscale and microscale flows are prevalent
    • Increases uncertainty in observations such as flux-towers (cold air drainage) and tracer transport models and interpolation of surface meteorology
  • Slope and aspect variations affects canopy radiative transfer
    • Increased uncertainty in remotely sensed data and models
  • Difficulty of access for field-based study
    • Sparse data leads to extemporaneous extrapolation
    • Carbon, land, and fire management are particularly difficult but need is high
  • Synthesis of ongoing projects – e.g., ORCA, ACME, BEACHON
    • Assessment of state of the science – data, projects, literature
    • Uncertainty in regional NEE
    • Development of an NCEAS Working Group?
  • MCI-West, where everything can go wrong?
    • How wrong can we be in terms of NACP goals at the subregional scale? Intermountain West (AK->Mexico)? West Coast?
  • Rapid response intensive to episodic extreme disturbance events?
    • Lack of understanding of post-disturbance carbon dynamics, especially after large events
    • Ongoing bark beetle damage could possibly have large effect/add uncertainty on future carbon cycling in North America
  • Data product and model improvement
    • Maps of meteorological drivers (slope/aspect corrections)
    • Assessment of high elevation carbon stocks
    • Transport model uncertainty
    • Carbon-water coupling and lateral flows in ecosystem models
    • Carbon cycle response to fire and insects
  • More information contact:
    • Ankur Desai –
  • Carbon management at fine scales?
    • Forest management, fire control overlap
  • Are our data representative of all kinds of mountain systems?
  • We may have data, but even so, we lack process understanding for some systems
    • Microclimate variation and substrate variation
    • Disturbance – drought, fire, insects, harvest?
    • Species shift – done a good bit (maybe), but extrapolation problem – key for forest management and future carbon cycle
    • Modes of spatial hetereogeneity, ways to scale
    • What drivers/processes are elevation, slope, aspect dependent
    • Spatial linkages (lateral) matter more that flat terrain?
charge to breakout
Charge to Breakout
  • in ~80 minutes:
    • Highlight state of the science on carbon exchange in mountain regions (globally and North America)
      • What do we know?
    • Discuss methodological and theoretical challenges to diagnosing and predicting carbon exchange in terrain
      • What don’t we know?
    • Identify opportunities for future NACP diagnosis, attribution, prediction, decision support in mountain regions
      • What would we like to do?