Initiatives in Brief:

In this series, the UCAR Quarterly profiles one or more of the NCAR strategic initiatives each issue. General background on the initiatives.

NCAR leaders: Elisabeth Holland, program leader. The steering committee includes Gordan Bonan, Alex Guenther, Donald Lenschow, Natalie Mahowald, David Schimel, Britton Stephens, Jielun Sun, and Peter Thornton.

Elisabeth Holland. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

Initial university collaborators:

Steven Bertman (Western Michigan University)
Mary Anne Carroll (University of Michigan)
Kenneth Davis (Pennsylvania State University)
Scott Doney (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
Inez Fung (University of California, Berkeley)
Marcy Litvak (University of Texas at Austin)
Andrew Manning (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry)
Russ Monson (University of Colorado)
Paul Shepson (Purdue University)
Jed Sparks (Cornell University)


Use observations and numerical modeling at multiple scales to integrate across a wide range of Earth, ocean, and atmospheric studies, with the eventual goal of addressing human impacts on the global biogeochemical environment and climate system

Research questions:

  • How does biogeochemical coupling of carbon, nitrogen, iron, and sulfur cycles affect climate, air quality, radiative forcing, and ecosystem function on regional to global scales?
  • How does heterogeneity in terrestrial landscapes interact with physical processes in the atmosphere to influence ecosystem processes, landatmosphere exchange, and local climate?
  • How will human impacts and biogeochemical cycles evolve under a future climate, and what are the feedbacks and interactions among global and climate change, land management, urbanization, technological development, economics, and decision-making?
Recent progress:
  • A land biogeochemistry module with carbon-nitrogen coupling has been designed and implemented for the Community Climate System Model (CCSM) and its Community Land Model (CLM).
  • Researchers affiliated with the initiative have explored the role of mineral aerosols in climate and their variability over time, including a possible rise in global amounts of airborne dust in the 21st century.
  • New airborne and ground-based instruments are testing a variety of atmospheric constituents key to biogeochemistry studies.
  • The Carbon in the Mountains Experiment includes an airborne component this summer and a strong regional-scale modeling component conducted in collaboration with the University of Colorado and funded by NSF's Biocomplexity in the Environment program.
  • Chemical Emission, Loss, Transformation and Interactions in Canopies (CELTIC), a study of atmospheric chemistry and forest canopy interactions, was conducted at Duke Forest in North Carolina.

In the literature:

Holland, E. A., B. H. Braswell, J. Sulzman, and J. F. Lamarque, 2004: Nitrogen deposition onto the United States and Western Europe: A synthesis of observations and models. Ecological Applications, in press.

Levis, S., C. Wiedinmyer, A. Guenther, and G. Bonan, 2003: Coupling biogenic VOC emissions to the Community Land Model: effects of land use change on BVOC emissions. Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR) 108, D21, 4659, 10.1029/2002JD003203.

Luo, C., N. Mahowald, and J. del Corral, 2003: Sensitivity study of meteorological parameters on mineral erosol mobilization, transport and distribution. JGR 108, D15, 4447, 10.1029/2003JD0003483.

Mahowald, N., C. Luo, J. del Corral, and C. Zender, 2003: Interannual variability in atmospheric mineral aerosols from a 22-year model simulation and observational data. JGR 108, D12, 10.1029/2002JD002821.

Mahowald, N., and J. -L. Dufresne, 2004: Sensitivity of TOMS AI to PBLH: Implications for detection of mineral aerosol sources. Geophysical Research Letters, in press.

Sun, J., S. P. Burns, A. C. Delany, S. P. Oncley, A. Turnipseed, B. Stephens, A. Guenther, D. E. Anderson, and R. Monson, 2004: Carbon dioxide transport over complex terrain. Proceedings, 26th AMS Conference on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, in press.

Coming up:

  • A series of CCSM experiments will explore carbon-nitrogen-climate coupling with various past and predicted climate forcings at intervals from 1850 to 2100, as part of the Coupled Climate Carbon Cycle Intercomparison Project.
  • A separate modeling effort will embark on a community model for assessing atmospheric chemistry in forest canopies.
  • Using the CLM, scientists will address how land use and land cover changes are altering climate, water, and carbon cycles.
  • A potential workshop in 2005 will introduce the university biogeosciences community to NCAR community facilities and instrumentation.
  • The Chemistry and Production of Smoke (CAPOS) study in Brazil, planned for 2005, is being funded by NSF, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Brazilian government.

Contact: Elisabeth Holland, 303-497-1433

NCAR-wide Biogeosciences Strategic Initiative


Also in this issue...

And then there was 3.0
What's new in CCSM 3.0

A lidar that's easy on the eyes
Forecasting for the Pentagon

Saving a department: the Arizona story

Tomorrow's fiber-optic network today: National LambdaRail

A new trajectory for COMET

Taking a closer look at present (and past) weather

President’s Corner - The allocation analysis

Web Watch
More than a makeover: UCAR's new umbrella site
Choice images by the megabyte: UCAR's Digital Image Library

Governance Update - UCAR trustees go to Washington

Science Bit - What makes a model hurricane head east?

UCAR Community Calendar