A new tool to monitor the carbon budget.


How do the vegetation carbon stocks change at the continental scale? What are the drivers of these changes?

hese are central questions for the sciences of Climate and for the application of international agreements on climate. A study coordinated by the University of Copenhagen (1) has developed a new approach to investigate this issue. In collaboration with scientific teams (2) from CEA, CNES and CNRS, INRA has coordinated the development of the new data set derived from space-borne microwave observations which is used to quantify vegetation carbon stocks. The study demonstrates that over the African continent and during the 2010-2016 period, the net carbon balance is negative (corresponding to a decrease of the quantity of carbon stored in the vegetation biomass) and that most of the carbon losses occurred in dryland savannahs. These results were published on 9th April 2018 in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The African continent is facing one of the driest periods in the past three decades as well as continued deforestation. These disturbances from both human pressure and climate change threaten vegetation carbon stocks and highlight the need for improved capabilities of monitoring large-scale aboveground carbon stock dynamics. What is the role of the different vegetation types (shrubland, woody savannah, rainfall forest)? What is their sensitivity to droughts?

A new and unique tool produced by French scientific teams

Scientists from INRA and their colleagues (1) have produced a new data set of the vegetation index referred to as L-VOD (L-band vegetation optical depth), retrieved from space-borne observations of the SMOS satellite over 2010-2016. The data have been used to quantify annual aboveground biomass-carbon changes in sub-Saharan Africa stocks over the time period.

The L-VOD index computed from low frequency microwave observations allows sensing the whole canopy layer, while remote sensing observations made so far (including VOD indexes from high frequency microwave observations) were limited to sensing the top of the canopy, especially over relatively dense forests.
In this study, the L-VOD index brings a temporal dimension to global, but static, maps of the aboveground biomass.

Read more on http://presse.inra.fr/en/Press-releases/a-new-tool-to-monitor-the-carbon-budget-of-vegetation

(1) Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

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