Edmonds Jae

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Role of carbon cycle observations and knowledge in carbon management

2003-08-14 , Dilling, Lisa , Doney, Scott C. , Edmonds, Jae , Gurney, Kevin R. , Harriss, Robert , Schimel, David S. , Stephens, Britton B. , Stokes, Gerald

Agriculture and industrial development have led to inadvertent changes in the natural carbon cycle. As a consequence, concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have increased in the atmosphere and may lead to changes in climate. The current challenge facing society is to develop options for future management of the carbon cycle. A variety of approaches has been suggested: direct reduction of emissions, deliberate manipulation of the natural carbon cycle to enhance sequestration, and capture and isolation of carbon from fossil fuel use. Policy development to date has laid out some of the general principles to which carbon management should adhere. These are summarized as: how much carbon is stored, by what means, and for how long. To successfully manage carbon for climate purposes requires increased understanding of carbon cycle dynamics and improvement in the scientific capabilities available for measurement as well as for policy needs. The specific needs for scientific information to underpin carbon cycle management decisions are not yet broadly known. A stronger dialogue between decision makers and scientists must be developed to foster improved application of scientific knowledge to decisions. This review focuses on the current knowledge of the carbon cycle, carbon measurement capabilities (with an emphasis on the continental scale) and the relevance of carbon cycle science to carbon sequestration goals.