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However science and politics do not remain static, especially in such a rapidly developing area as global carbon cycling and the political manoeuverings surrounding the negotiation of the climate convention. Particular developments that impinged on the planning of the sequestration workshop included an increasing understanding of the way the atmospheric exchanges of carbon are partitioned between continental and ocean regions, and their zonal distribution.

Technology of carbon flux measurement had moved rapidly to a point when long-term continuous observation over large areas became feasible. At one point the possibility was raised that the entire rationale for such a workshop was thrown into doubt. For a short period between and it appeared that the inexorable rise in the atmospheric concentration of carbon was not so inexorable after all; and a decline appeared possible over the northern hemisphere.

However this reversal turned out to a temporary phenomenon and the long-term trend soon reasserted itself. The developments that were probably the most influential in shaping the workshop were those in the policy arena. These ranged from the purely practical to the ethical. As mentioned above, the FCCC by setting national targets in the way it does, much enhances the potential importance of sequestration as a contribution to the task. Each signatory to the Climate Convention will need to develop a country plan to balance its carbon books, and it is legitimate for countries to offset their emissions by sequestration projects outside their national boundaries.

So regional or local solutions and contributions begin to be emphasized - we do not need to think of carbon sequestration in terms of a whole-globe solution, and ecosystem-level carbon flows can legitimately be considered. The debate on ethical issues was sharpened up.


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In this context the negative view hinges on a reaction against the idea of technological "fixes" to counter a different technology-caused problem. The ethical counter-argument is based on the fact that much of human development can be expressed in terms of interventions in natural VII systems in order to buffer society against natural variation or protect it from adverse environmental conditions. Many past and current activities have led to a diminution of the biospheric carbon store, especially in soils turned over from natural vegetation to arable agriculture.

Firstly it was emphasized that this was not a policy-oriented workshop. Participants were encouraged to concentrate their attention on the scientific underpinning of possible policies. The physiology of ecosystem, biome and continental scale should be the springboard for discussing how carbon uptake may be increased, ie net primary production, and how the mineralisation or release of carbon back into the atmosphere might be depressed. The major carbon pools in the oceans c 40, Gt and in the terrestrial biosphere c 2, Gt are involved in a gross exchange of Gt C per year with the atmospheric pool of Gt, which is itself increasing by 3.

The natural exchange between the biosphere and atmosphere is large compared with the emission of about 6 Gt C from burning fossil fuel. The relative magnitude of the pools and fluxes highlights the difficulties of predicting and detecting the strength of the different sources and sinks of carbon in the biosphere. Whilst biological science has built up a good understanding of the basic processes of carbon transformation and transport - photosynthesis, translocation, respiration, consumption and decomposition - this understanding is best developed at the organism and patch scale.

Our capability to scale up to the ecosystem and beyond and to quantify carbon fluxes over full life cycles of vegetation remains very limited. This is because 1 net ecosystem production depends on integrating a large number of dynamic and interacting processes; 2 intrinsic measurement difficulties of important components of the carbon stores combined with the small changes relative to the large pool sizes mean that the changes are hard to estimate and to detect except over very long time scales; and 3 the changes in atmospheric CO2 and the apparent trends in global climate are themselves affecting the carbon balance and turnover times of ecosystems which are just beginning to be studied and which indicate uncertainty in the future feedback effects in the systems.

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So at the same time as biological science is facing the challenges of these and similar uncertainties, policies are being developed and implemented that attempt to manipulate the global carbon cycle by long-term sequestration of carbon into the biosphere. The history of land-use change by man has shown how easy it is for systems inadvertently to lose carbon. Many options for sequestration are being proposed, but experience of land and ocean management shows how important it is to base manipulation on sound scientific principles. The questions of where is sequestraion possible, to what degree, how, and with what consequences, require an understanding both of the basic biological processes involved and the functioning of the ecosystems.

Manipulations for carbon sequestration may compete with or complement existing or alternative uses for ecosystem resources so one must not forget the social and economic consequences of any new policies. The chosen emphasis was to focus primarily on photosynthesis and decomposition as these are the two primary processes by which carbon is assimilated and dissimilated. They are common to all ecosystems although the responsible organisms may range from trees to algae and bacteria to termites.

A major benefit was foreseen by bringing IX together scientists with terrestrial, wetland and aquatic backgrounds to share and compare their understandings of the processes and controls. In this regard the present volume complements others on the subject which address carbon balance in particular ecosystems or assess global budgets, for example the NATO workshops published in this series as Volumes 14, , and The plan was to make comparisons in two directions; first to review the characteristics of different ecosystems, then to compare the broad characteristics across the three domains.

An important third aspect, also highlighted, was to review our understanding of the processes by which ecosystem responses to climate change amplify or reduce the direct impact, ie positive and negative feedbacks.

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The challenge is to translate these understandings into quantitative models for prediction and policy. As has been stated, one of the primary aims of the Workshop was to bring scientists together from different disciplines and backgrounds. The mix of participants was carefully selected to capture expertise from different fields; marine and terrestrial, organism and biome, natural science and policy.

In the early part of the workshop much time was timetabled to be spent in discussion of the review papers, and later, group discussions dominated the proceedings.

The reports of the working groups are an important feature of this volume. By their nature they should not be read as representing carefully evaluated findings in the formal scientific sense. However it is hoped the reader will agree that the conclusions that are reached point the way forward for developing the necessary scientific understandings that underpin policy in this potentially important area as well as bringing out some general features and "constants" that apply across the diverse ecosystem types and their key differences.

Carbon Sequestration in the Biosphere: Processes and by Max A. Beran

As has been emphasized, it was not the objective" of this workshop to be prescriptive about policies or to try to estimate the global prospects of this particular mitigation measure. So you will not read any global estimates or sure-fire recipes for land management and ocean chemical treatment. Rather we aimed to provide as exhaustive an account as practicable of the processes that underlie sequestration in the different significant environments.

This should be an invaluable source for scientists brought in to advise about the relative prospects for carbon sequestration and also will also sound the x necessary caveats for any too-simplistic action which neglects to take a whole-life and whole ecosystem view. Frederic R. Global Aquatic and Atmospheric Environment. Soil Processes and the Carbon Cycle. Rattan Lal. Recarbonization of the Biosphere.


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Soils, Ecosystem Processes, and Agricultural Development. Shinya Funakawa. Michael J. Revolutions that Made the Earth. Tim Lenton. Carbon Sequestration in Forest Ecosystems. Klaus Lorenz. Janusz Wasowski. Geobiology: Objectives, Concepts, Perspectives.

Environmentalism

Ioannis N. Atmospheric Methane. Mohammad Aslam Khan Khalil. Environmental Management of Solid Waste. Mathematical Geosciences. Joseph L. Joe Wisniewski. Acidic Pit Lakes. Walter Geller. Benjamin Loubet. Critical Loads and Dynamic Risk Assessments.

Environmentalism

Maximilian Posch. Zijun Cao. Viktor J. Characterizing Stellar and Exoplanetary Environments. Maxim Khodachenko.