The Elum Project: A Network of UK Sites to Understand Land-Use Transitions to Bioenergy and Their Implications for Greenhouse Gas Balance and Carbon Cycling
Abstract:Rising anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions coupled with an increasing need to address energy security are resulting in the development of cleaner, more sustainable alternatives to traditional fossil fuel sources. Bioenergy crops have been proposed to be able to mitigate the effects of climate change as well as provide increased energy security. The aim of this project is to assess the impact of land conversion to second generation non-food bioenergy crops on GHG balance for several land use transitions, including from arable, grassland and forest.
A network of 6 sites was established across the UK to assess the processes underpinning GHG balance and to provide input data to a model being used to assess the sustainability of different land use transitions. Monthly analysis of soil GHGs shows that carbon dioxide contributes most to the global warming potential of these bioenergy crops, irrespective of transition. Nitrous oxide emissions were low for all crops except arable cropping and methane emissions were very low for all sites. Nearly all sites have shown a significant decrease in CO2 flux from the control land use.
Eddy flux approaches, coupled with soil assessments show that for the transition from grassland to SRC willow there is a significant reduction in GHG emissions from soil and a negative net ecosystem exchange due to increased GPP and ecosystem respiration. These results suggest for this land use transition to bioenergy in a UK specific context, there may be a net benefit for ecosystem GHG exchange of transition to bioenergy
Finally we are developing a meta-modelling tool to allow land use managers to make location-specific, informed decisions about land use change to bioenergy.
This work is based on the Ecosystem Land Use Modelling & Soil Carbon GHG Flux Trial (ELUM) project, which was commissioned and funded by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). This project is co-ordinated by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (www.elum.ac.uk).