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Register Number: ER65220
Title: Carbon-Water Cycling in the Critical Zone: Understanding Ecosystem Process Variability Across Complex Terrain
Principal Investigator: Barnard, Holly
Institution: COLORADO, UNIVERSITY OF
Institution Address: Boulder, CO 80309-0572
Awarded Amount to Date and B&R Code :
FY 2014$0 k
FY 2013$212 kKP170201
FY 2012$214 kKP170201
FY 2011$220 kKP170201
DOE Program Manager: James Kuperberg
BER Division: Climate and Environmental Sciences
Research Area: Terrestrial Ecosystem Science
Abstract Submit Date: 10/09/2013
Project Term: 09/15/2011 - 09/14/2014
Abstract: One of the largest knowledge gaps in environmental science is the ability to understand and predict how ecosystems will respond to future climate variability. The links between vegetation, hydrology, and climate that control carbon sequestration in plant biomass and soils remain poorly understood. Soil respiration is the second largest carbon flux of terrestrial ecosystems, yet there is no consensus on how respiration will change as water availability and temperature co-vary. To address this knowledge gap, we use the variation in soil development and topography across an elevation and climate gradient on the Front Range of Colorado to conduct a natural experiment that enables us to examine the co-evolution of soil carbon, vegetation, hydrology, and climate in an accessible field laboratory. The goal of this project is to further our ability to combine plant water availability, carbon flux and storage, and topographically driven hydrometrics into a watershed scale predictive model of carbon balance. We hypothesize: (i) landscape structure and hydrology are important controls on soil respiration as a result of spatial variability in both physical and biological drivers: (ii) variation in rates of soil respiration during the growing season is due to corresponding shifts in belowground carbon inputs from vegetation; and (iii) aboveground carbon storage (biomass) and species composition are directly correlated with soil moisture and therefore, can be directly related to subsurface drainage patterns.