Emerald Terrestrial ecosystem-climate interactions of our EMERALD planet

Project Description

Plants have changed the history of our "Emerald Planet". As David Beerling wrote in his 2017 book The Emerald Planet '[plants] regulate the cycling of carbon dioxide and water, influences the rate at which rocks erode, adjust the chemical composition of the atmosphere, and affect how the landscape absorbs or reflects sunlight.' They are 'not silent witnesses to the passage of time but dynamic components that shape and are, in return, shaped by the environment.' Shaping and being shaped, vegetation operates in feedbacks in the climate system, involving also the atmosphere, soils, and the hydrological cycle.

The scientific objective of EMERALD is to improve representation of high-latitude ecosystems and their climate interactions in the Norwegian Earth System model (NorESM) by integrating data and knowledge from empirical ecosystem research in model parameterisation, development, and testing.

Expanding from established collaborations, EMERALD will integrate existing activities among key partners and provide added value through critical mass, joint fieldwork and experiments, co-ordinated modelling efforts, and novel approaches. This requires a rigorous review of existing parameterisations across a range of scales. EMERALD facilitates beter use of relevant data and observations and implementation of key processes in NorESM. We expect to significantly advance the representation of high-latitude terrestrial ecosystems, offering novel parameterisations and structural updates to improve current land surface schemes - with the potential to yield significant improvements in NorESM, including impacts and feedback to terrestrial ecosystems.

EMERALD will "feed" a community land model (CLM) and "challenge" it with observtional data from cold environments to implement improved representations adapted for each specific region. This model development strategy, which includes process-based mechanistic modelling, is the core of Work-Package (WP) 1. A critical factor for its successful application is the availability of relevant observational data, vital both for formulating underlying processes and relationships, and for feeding and challenging the CLM. A critical resource towards this is the wealth of data from decades of vegetation and ecosystem research from across Norway, including but not limited to work by EMERALD partners, much of which has focused on impacts of climate change, and which not yet has been brought together in a systematic way. EMERALD thus facilitates a broader national collaboration and data synthesis across the community,  while also adding a focus to the reverse relationship: the impact of vegetation on climate. Based on this data resource, WP2 supports WP1, but also contributes stand-alone research in the form of process studies, and upscaling by combining observations across methods and parameter space. WP1 outcomes will be used in WP3, which explores the effects of model improvements in NorESM.

For more information, have a look at the University of Oslo's EMERALD project page:

The team

Between the Fjords members part of this project:

Vigdis Vandvik
Project participant
Sonya Geange
Postdoctoral researcher