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Different components of the Earth system (land, atmosphere, ocean) are connected in various ways, thus changes in one ecosystem have impacts in another. Understanding the anthropogenic impact on these ecosystem connections, and their related feedbacks requires a strong interdisciplinary collaboration within a network of institutes dedicated to atmosphere, ocean, and land ecosystems research.

Land-use intensity and Ecological Engineering – Assessment Tools for risks and Opportunities in irrigated rice based production systems

The project LEGATO aims to quantify the dependence of ecosystem functions and the services they generate in agricultural systems. The spatial foci are two areas in Southeast Asia: Vietnam (Tien Giang province in Mekong Delta and the Red River Valley from the Northwest mountain region to the delta) and The Philippines (Central Luzon from Banaue to Cabanatuan). LEGATO will analyse the potential of ecological engineering to achieve an optimising of ecosystem functions and services and their stabilisation under future climate and land use change. See also here.

Impact of climate variability on Carbon dynamics and terrestrial CO2 emissions

PIK's research subject in the TRACES network was carbon exchange between land, ocean, and atmosphere in the Amazon basin. This region is of prime importance for Earth System research. Strong climatic variations (e.g. El Nino) cause large interannual changes in fluxes of carbon (e. g. transport of particulate and dissolved carbon by river, and emissions of CO2 and CH4 to the atmosphere).
The destruction of tropical rain forest increases emissions of gases like CO2 and CH4. Additionally, the remaining forest and its carbon storage are endangered by climate change. Finally, the transport of carbon through the Amazon River to the western tropical Atlantic plays an important role in regional terrestrial and oceanic carbon budget and in oceanic productivity.
Process based models of carbon and water budgets are able to estimate terrestrial carbon and water balance of large catchments. The requirements for analyzing carbon source and sink dynamics depending on deforestation and climate change have been established by using an enhanced LPJmL model and a newly developed model. This Riverine Carbon Model (RivCM) calculates the extend of flooded area, the amount of terrestrial fixed carbon, that is removed by the river, and the conversion of the carbon.
Our results indicate that climate change will shift inundation patterns, like duration and flooded area, which will change the amount of removed carbon and therewith the organic carbon within the river. Land use change alters riverine carbon as well, since it reduces available terrestrial matter. Both future changes will not only largely impact regional carbon balance but also the Amazonian biotops and species.