Modelling long-term C-dynamics in floodplain environments

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: 03 Oct 2022

Enhancing the natural carbon sink is an integral part of climate mitigation. Amongst terrestrial ecosystems, fluvial systems are important carbon stocks, and floodplain soils are – especially in a Belgian context – hotspots for carbon storage at millennial timescales. However, due to climate change and changing land use practices (including drainage, vegetation changes and urbanization, both local and in the catchment), these carbon stocks are under pressure and floodplains might change to net carbon sources, in particular because alluvial peatlands, often buried under mineral sediment, tend to degrade. Within the RECARBON project it is aimed to evaluate the potential of land use management practices within floodplains in general, and in Belgium in particular, as a climate mitigation tool through the capture and storage of carbon. This project combines a detailed insight in the present-day characteristics of carbon storage in floodplains with the dynamic nature of C in floodplain environments at different timescales. 

Within the framework of this particular PhD project, the net carbon storage at different timescales in dynamic fluvial environments will be simulated by combining hydrological, geomorphic and geochemical carbon models. The modelling approach will allow to test the sensitivity of carbon storage in wetlands to changes in land use practices (both local as in the entire catchment) and climate, and will allow us to identify best land use practices to increase the carbon stocks of floodplains and to sustain habitability in river valleys. Modelling approaches will be calibrated and validated with information on C quantity and quality that will be derived from field measurements. 

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