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Bennett Endowed Seminar: Nitrogen Limitation on Land: How Can It Exist in Earth System Models and What Are the Implications for Climate?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
12:00 AM
Gates Lecture Hall, University of Michigan Biological Station, 9133 Biological Rd., Pellston, MI 49769

Terrestrial ecosystems absorb approximately 30% of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and land-use each year. Any future change in the strength of the carbon sink will alter climate by changing the fraction of emissions that remain in the atmosphere.

Earth System models are the primary tool used to predict the future of the terrestrial carbon sink and its feedbacks with climate. They therefore provide information to the public and policymakers about climate change mitigation and adaption. These models represent the mechanisms that contribute to the terrestrial carbon sink, many of which can be constrained or enhanced by nitrogen availability. Consequently, Earth System models must be able to accurately simulate the effect of nitrogen constraints on the carbon sink.  

In this seminar, Quinn Thomas will give an overview on the current theory describing the extent of nitrogen limitation of plant growth across the globe, how nitrogen limitation is represented in Earth System models, and how nitrogen limitation has been predicted to alter climate. Specifically, he will address how observational data from field sites, such as UMBS, can be used to evaluate coupled carbon-nitrogen dynamics in Earth System models.

R. Quinn Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Prior to that he was a post-doctoral scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  Thomas received his Ph.D. in Ecology from Cornell University.

This event is free and open to the public.