More information on C-CASCADES can be found on the project website.

Pioneering project unlocks vital role carbon cycle plays in regulating Earth’s climate

A pioneering new European project will play a crucial part in addressing on of the greatest research challenges of the 21st century – the vital role that the carbon cycle plays in regulating the Earth’s climate.

Called C-CASCADES, the project is designed to radically advance global understandings of how carbon is transferred between the land and the ocean, as well the ensuing consequences for atmospheric CO2 levels and climate change.

The project will produce a new generation of young scientists, who will use cutting-edge research and innovative new techniques to study the transport, transformation and ultimate fate of carbon from terrestrial ecosystems to rivers, lakes, coastal waters and ultimately the open ocean.

By introducing the results into Earth System Models, the team will be able to better explain and understand the fluxes of greenhouse gases - primarily carbon dioxide and methane - exchanged with the atmosphere and their impacts on the climate system.

The University of Exeter will undertake the crucial role of Training Coordinator for the project, which has received £3m funding from the EU Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Innovative Training Network, with the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) acting as the Project Coordinator.

The network, which will be based around an interdisciplinary team of experts from 12 institutions, will train Early-Stage Researchers both as future scientists and professionals.

Leo Rodrigues, Training Manager for C-CASCADES and from the University of Exeter said: “This pivotal new training network will consist of three main elements supported by a bespoke career development plan:  institution-specific training; network training through mini-conferences, workshops and a summer school; and outside-network training opportunities.

“It will also provide secondments to ensure the researchers are exposed to a wide range of scientific expertise, teach them technical and transferable skills and to enhance their research through collaboration opportunities.”

Until recently, the ‘land-ocean aquatic continuum’ (LOAC), has not been considered an important carbon sink. However, it is now recognised that future assessments of changes in carbon storage must take into account the land-ocean aquatic continuum to ensure accurate estimation of carbon storage.

To do this, there is a need for improved knowledge of the mechanisms controlling the degradation, preservation and emissions of carbon along the aquatic continuum to fully understand the impact of human activity on these carbon transfers. 

The C-CASCADES project is designed to meet these changing needs, both locally and globally, to ensure that the role of the LOAC are better understood and considered for future climate change projections.

Professor Pierre Friedlingstein, Training Coordinator and one of the Exeter Principal Investigators added: “We already know that carbon storage in sediments in rivers and coastal regions could present a more secure environment than carbon stored in soil on land.

“However, there are still uncertainties about just how crucial the land-ocean aquatic continuum carbon cycle is for understanding the fate of anthropogenic CO2 emissions and induced climate change. This exciting, pivotal project will help answer some important immediate questions to help secure the planet’s future.”

More information on C-CASCADES can be found on the project website

Date: 20 December 2016

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