Integrating the evidence for a terrestrial carbon sink caused by increasing atmospheric CO2

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Online seminar followed by Q&A – all welcome. NB – all times given in UK time.

CO2-stimulation of the terrestrial carbon sink is a global-scale ecosystem service that is buying us time in the fight against climate change. But what is the magnitude of this effect, and how will it change into the future? These major questions in global ecology have stimulated a vast body of cross-disciplinary research that can be hard to navigate. Ecosystem CO2-responses are complex or confounded by concurrent changes in multiple agents of global change and evidence for a CO2-driven terrestrial carbon sink can appear contradictory. In this talk, Anthony will present a community synthesis of theory and broad, multi-disciplinary evidence for the effects of increasing CO2 on the terrestrial carbon sink. The need for quantitative synthesis of multiple threads of evidence with theory and accounting for potential biases will be highlighted and illustrated with recent examples.

Originally from Swindon in the UK, Anthony did his undergrad degree in Plant Science with the University of Sheffield’s Animal and Plant Sciences Department. He then spent a number of years working on an organic farm, landscaping, environmental project management, interspersed with world travel and a Master’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Wye College, part of Imperial College London at the time. For his Master’s thesis he was fortunate to travel to East Africa to study agricultural systems in Western Kenya, where he also got his first real taste of computer modeling. He started a PhD at age 30 with Ian Woodward, again at the University of Sheffield, to study how elevated CO2 experiments can help constrain ecosystem models. During that time he got to help out at the Oak Ridge FACE experiment and got involved in a modeling activity led by Rich Norby. He then moved to Oak Ridge National Lab in East Tennessee to do a post-doc with Rich. Today he is a Senior Scientist at Oak Ridge, still studying the effects of elevated CO2 on terrestrial ecosystems, how to improve models, especially understanding model process complexity and the role of models as systems-level hypotheses, and, more recently, how to model nutrient dynamics in tropical forests.