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LU – Biosphere-Atmosphere Interaction Research (LUfluxes)

Within LU Fluxes we are investigating how the biosphere - atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases (GHG) and energy in ecosystems is affected by natural forcing mechanisms, management practices and natural disturbances (drought, storms etc.). We are studying exchange processes of GHGs and energy with a variety of methods, but eddy covariance and chambers are most commonly used.

Scientist with climbing gear and helmet opening an installment with measurement instruments high up in a tower, with view of tree tops behind him.

How does forest management affect the climate?

The need to simultaneously provide multiple ecosystem services has increased the interest to diversify forest management through continuous cover forestry (CCF) in the Nordic countries. Traditional rotation forestry (RF) creates even-aged stands that are rational and cost-effective to manage, but lower biodiversity, increased risk for nutrient leakage and large GHG emissions during the clear-cut phase are potential drawbacks. In contrast, CCF is often applied through selection harvests and relies on natural regeneration. This causes less disturbance to the ecosystem and leaves the understory and ground vegetation almost intact, allowing them and the remaining large trees to utilize resources that become available after harvest.

However, the effects of CCF on climate and environment, such as carbon storage in soil and biomass and the dynamics of GHG, water and energy fluxes are to date largely unknown. This creates significant uncertainty in evaluating the climate change mitigation potential of Fennoscandian forests and in determining optimal management at a range of temporal scales (i.e. short-term carbon neutrality target vs. long-term effects). 

Within the project Towards more sustainable forest management - Climate mitigation potential of Fennoscandian forests under different forest management regimes (Skogssällskapet),  we aim to fill these crucial knowledge gaps and contribute to informed management decisions that guarantee the long-term productivity, enhanced climate change mitigation and minimized negative environmental impacts in the future.

The project is based on measurements at our own field stations Rumperöd (CCF forest near Glimåkra, Skåne) and Hyltemossa CC (clear-cut RF forest site, planted 2015, near Perstorp, Skåne) as well as on existing measurement from Swedish and Finnish Research infrastructure (ICOS Hyltemossa , ICOS Norunda and Ränskälänkorpi,  ICOS Hyytiälä, ICOS Lettosuo in Sweden and Southern Finland respectively.

Rewetting of previously drained peatlands

A climate mitigation and adaptation strategy applicable for Sweden is rewetting of drained peatlands, which can both aid in mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and create a landscape with higher biodiversity that is also more resilient to drought/flooding and forest fires.

Together with researchers at the universities in Gothenburg and Stockholm, we are developing a guidebook (Formas -A guide on how land-use management can convert high-emitting drained organic soils into areas with negative emissions) presenting several rewetting alternatives and their respective expected GHG emissions/uptake. The handbook will be based on measured data as well as the state-of-the-art models CoupModel and ForSAFE and it aims at providing support to land owners and policymakers for making climate-smart management decisions.
Within a BECC project (Impact of rewetting drained peatlands on soil microbial activity and composition and its climate mitigation potential), with collaborators at University of Gothenburg, we will study the impact of rewetting a peatland at the Skogaryd Research Catchment on the functional activity and diversity of the soil microbial community and relate this to other environmental parameters and GHG fluxes.

In cooperation with researchers from SLU Alnarp, we are working in a project (Formas - The return of wetland forests - improving biodiversity while restoring carbon sinks) to define target forests for optimum biodiversity and climate benefits in future rewetting projects. We want to do this by examining wetland forest habitats for unique compositions of vascular plants, bryophytes and lichens and by assessing their carbon balance.

Climate mitigation potential of perennial crops in agriculture

There are clear indications that a transition from annual to perennial grain crops can become an effective way to help Sweden reach its climate target to have zero net emissions in 2045, and net-negative emissions thereafter. The potential effect on soil carbon storage is enormous – theoretically such a change on Sweden's current cereal area would mean that 30% of the target was met. The first semi-commercial cultivations of the newly domesticated perennial cereal, intermediate wheatgrass (IWG, Kernza) are underway. Breeding of IWG is progressing fast and agroecological studies of the carbon capturing potential are urgent. 

Together with Jonas Ardö (INES) and collaborators in the project Capturing Carbon in Perennial Cropping Systems (Formas), we are involved in EC measurements of CO2 and energy at a measurement site at Alnarp near Lund. From the summer of 2023 this includes a comparison of fluxes from two fields, one with IWG and one with normal rotation of annual crops.

Impact of land use on land-atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases in savannahs of Sahel 

In this project, we will assess the impact of alternative choices of land use of semi-arid ecosystems of the Sahel. Our overarching goal is to improve our understanding of the processes affecting the greenhouse gas exchange of the Sahel region, and to study the impact of land use and land cover change. New knowledge on climate change mitigation strategies for semi-arid regions will be generated, contributing to an achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Results of the project will contribute to policy recommendations for guiding sustainable land use of semi-arid regions of the Sahel.

Contact and info

Research team

Patrik Vestin (PI)
e-mail: Patrik [dot] Vestin [at] nateko [dot] lu [dot] se
Tobias Biermann
Meelis Mölder
Torbern Tagesson

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Related research stations

Skogaryd research catchment

BECC - Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate