Natasha MacBean Talk

Natasha MacBean Talk, Friday, April 9, 9:30-10:30am, Predicting the fate of the terrestrial carbon cycle from ecosystem to global scale


Virtual talk will be held on April 9th from 9:30 to 10:30 am


Terrestrial ecosystems act as a global sink of carbon, C, absorbing ~30% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. However, considerable uncertainty remains in our understanding of which regions and processes are controlling this C sink, its inter-annual variability (IAV), and its long-term trend. As a result, uncertainty in model projections of the C sink is high; some models even predict the land may switch from sink to source by the end of the century. There is an urgent need to resolve this issue – without accurate sink estimates, we cannot quantify the allowable carbon emissions that would prevent global temperatures from rising above 2°C. Addressing these challenges is core to my research.

In this talk, I will highlight two key themes of my research: reducing uncertainty in global C cycle projections and understanding vegetation-carbon-water interactions in climate-sensitive ecosystems. I will present how I use field and satellite remote sensing data analysis, together with process-based modeling, to explore questions such as: Which regions are dominating the global C sink?; Which processes in water-limited dryland ecosystems are contributing to global C cycle IAV?; and How is dryland vegetation responding to complex interacting environmental change drivers? Finally, I will discuss future research directions, including investigating tundra shrub expansion and the implications for the arctic C balance, and exploring how land management scenarios can mitigate negative consequences of global environmental change.