Head of cross-sector project: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Augustin
The global change of climate, economic framework conditions, technical progress and socio-political conditions influences agricultural landscapes in many different ways. Global climate change, which is virtually uncontrollable, plays an important role – not only with regard to productivity, for instance, due to a changed water and material balance, but also with regard to how agricultural landscapes function concerning the resources soil, water and biodiversity. At the same time, land use and altered land management in turn influence relevant climatic elements, such as the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. The highly topical explosive nature of these feedback processes arises from the finding that only approximately 45% of the global, anthropogenically emitted CO2 can currently be located in the atmosphere. The remaining 55% is taken up by oceans and continents (global carbon sink). However, it is not clear where and how this occurs. Since the oceans have already reached their intake capacity, it is assumed that a large part of anthropogenic CO2 is absorbed on the continents (CO2 sequestration). It is also known, however, that there are strong land use-related CO2 sources on the continents, e.g. drainage of moors and deforestation. Climate researchers must therefore ask themselves where CO2 is sequestered on the continents – the question of the "residual land sink". Moreover, we do not know whether and when its intake capacity will perhaps be exhausted – which would lead to a much more considerable rise in the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.
There is general agreement that the key to answering this question lies in land use or land use changes. In this context, CarboZALF investigates the changes of the carbon balance of agricultural landscapes. The interdisciplinary and cross-institutional investigations focus on the effects of current land use trends, such as intensified energy crop cultivation, the CO2 source/sink function of agricultural landscapes and their global warming potential.
The research topics:
- What impact does the increased cultivation of energy crops have on the release of greenhouse gases CO2, CH4, N2O and the resulting climatic effect (trace gas balance) in agricultural landscapes?
- How does the CO2-C sequestration potential of soil landscapes develop in the context of land use changes and climate change?
- What are the interactions between erosion/sedimentation processes and CO2 balances via crop rotations?
- To what extent can changed land management contribute to a reduction in emissions of climate-relevant trace gases and therefore to a reduction of the climatic effect? (mitigation strategy)
- What is the quantitative importance of forests and small water bodies in CO2-C sequestration in agricultural landscapes?