Where the greenhouse gases go
The oceans, forests and soils store carbon dioxide and therby help to slow down global warming. Can we rely on their help in future, was the major question addressed in the SNF Magazine of March 2017.
Almost half of the carbon dioxide that humans release into the environment is taken up by the world’s oceans and the terrestrial biosphere. In this manner, greenhouse gases are partially extracted from the atmosphere, which alleviates the process of global warming. But will the land and the seas be able to continue storing carbon dioxide in the future? Researchers from ETH Zürich, Universität Bern and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) in Birmensdorf are trying to find out.
In order to be able to draw conclusions about CO2 sinks on a European or worldwide scale, researchers need standardised measurements.These can then be extrapolated for larger geographical areas, using computer models. In the European consortium project «ICOS Research Infrastructure», measurement instruments and data processing are currently being standardised.
Nina Buchmann, Professor of Grassland Sciences at the Institute of Agricultural Science is coordinating the Swiss end of Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS-CH). Two measurement locations are participating here in Switzerland: one in a spruce forest, also near Davos, and one at the Jungfraujoch research station.