Carbon Digest #7: Observations, Interventions, CO2 Removal, AmeriFlux, SOCCR Class

November 12, 2020
Washington, D.C.



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Carbon Digest #7: Carbon Observations, Carbon Dioxide Removal, NCA5 Nominations

October/November 2020

          The last few weeks presented many opportunities for deliberations, information exchange and community building activities pertinent to carbon cycle science across land, ocean, atmosphere and societal dimensions. This Carbon Digest includes reports from some of those activities. The activities included in this issue are the (i) First meeting of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Committee on Ocean Carbon Dioxide Removal, (ii) Community Climate Intervention Strategies workshop and (iii) 2020 AmeriFlux Annual Meeting.  An overview of Virginia Tech University's class on the State of the Carbon Cycle is also included. I appreciate everyone who took the time to prepare these blurbs and also for inviting us to participate in your activities and conversations. The continued community science engagement and enhanced inclusivity during these COVID-19 pandemic-induced difficult times is much appreciated and heartening.
          Climate change intervention strategies such as carbon dioxide removal practices and technologies are informed by near- and long-term scientific observations of the carbon cycle across multiple systems. So, continuing our focus on highlighting Second State of the Carbon Cycle Science (SOCCR2) sustained assessment content pertinent to carbon cycle research opportunities to inform decisions, this Carbon Digest spotlights such carbon cycle related observational systems and networks and carbon measurement approaches.
          Finally, we invite you to join us during our interagency AGU sessions and town hall in in December 2020. We always value community participation and look forward to your continued input, support and collaborations.

With regards, and wishing you the best of health,
Gyami Shrestha, Ph.D.
Director, U.S. Carbon Carbon Cycle Science Program Office
In this Digest

  • Who are we and what are we planning? Come meet with us @AGU in December.
  • Nominate yourself for the U.S. National Climate Assessment - Deadline Nov 14
  • Thoughts on Virtual Meetings: AmeriFlux Annual Meeting Summary by Dr. Trevor Keenan
  • Reflections on First NASEM Ocean Carbon Dioxide Removal Committee meeting by Dr. Scott Doney
  • Overview of Community Climate Interventions Strategy (CCIS) Workshop
  • Virginia Tech University's State of the Carbon Cycle Class by Dr. Brian Strahm
  • Research Informing Decisions (SOCCR2): Carbon Observations and Measurements
  • Save the Date: Open Science Meeting of North American Carbon Program
  • News, Opportunities, Partnerships
  • Helpful links
Who are we? Meet us @AGU Dec 2020.

The U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program, in consultation with the Carbon Cycle Interagency Working Group (CCIWG), coordinates and facilitates activities relevant to carbon cycle science, climate and global change (such as joint research funding and the Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report or SOCCR2) with the science community. We meet quadri-weekly as part of regular CCIWG meetings, and often more frequently on an ad-hoc basis. We invite you to join us virtually at AGU online in December to find out more about what we are working on, planning and deliberating, based on multi-agency priorities and community science advances. We look forward to your participation and input in the following CCIWG / U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program events:

1. Oral Session: B011. A Decade of Progress in Global Carbon Cycle Science I Oral
Day/Time: Monday, 7 December 2020: 16:00 - 17:00 PST (UTC-8), 19:00 - 20:00 (EST)

2. Poster Session: B001. A Decade of Progress in Global Carbon Cycle Science II Posters
Day/Time: Monday, 7 December 2020: 04:00 - 20:59 PST (UTC-8) 07:00 - 23:59 (EST)
3. Town Hall: Building on Successes: Strategic Planning and Implementation for the Next Decade of the U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program and North American Carbon Program. 
Day/Time: Thursday, 10 December from 1:30 – 2:30 pm ET

For more sessions and town hall descriptions and panelists, follow this link.

National Climate Assessment - Nomination Deadline Nov 14

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP)'s Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) is seeking author nominations and technical inputs. Prospective authors nominated through this process may be invited to serve as Chapter Lead Authors, Authors, or Technical Contributors to NCA5. Details here. Please submit all nominations by 11:59 PM ET on Nov. 14, 2020. Link to submit your nomination or technical input here.
Reflections on Virtual Meetings: AmeriFlux 2020, 'Bridging the Americas'

By Trevor Keenan, University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

On October 6-8th 2020, the AmeriFlux Annual Meeting (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy) was held virtually, everywhere. The theme of the meeting was ‘Bridging the Americas’, with an explicit focus on continent-wide participation, informing decision makers, and open science. Over 400 registrants came together during the three days, for a mix of zoom science presentations, virtual mixers, and early career lightning talks, with poster sessions and happy hours hosted in an 80’s-esque Metaverse-like environment called Gather.Town.

Feedback collected after the meeting was very positive, with participants commenting that it was among the best meetings they had attended, and 100% of survey respondents stating that they would attend again. For 50% of the participants, it was the first AmeriFlux annual meeting they had ever attended, and 35% of participants joined from 32 different non-US countries. The virtual format clearly enabled participation from international and resource-limited scientists, in addition to reducing our collective carbon footprint.

There was consistent appreciation for all elements of the meeting—talks, posters, breakouts, mixers, and social events. In a post COVID-19 world, the success of some of these virtual meeting elements will raise questions about effective meeting design. Elements that work well in all-virtual formats may not work well for in-person or hybrid meetings however, and participants were interested in alternating future events between virtual and in-person. Although we long for contact and a return to the pre-COVID-19 norm, we are learning the wonders of a future that can be rebuilt better.

Video recordings of the meeting keynote sessions, including the talk, “Past to Future: A Vision for Diverse and Inclusive Carbon Cycle Science Collaborations” and other talks are available here and here.
Ocean Carbon Dioxide Removal NASEM Meeting

By Scott Doney, University of Virginia

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) has appointed an ad-hoc committee to explore ocean-based approaches to carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and sequestration and provide a path forward for research and development of promising CDR approaches. With an exclusive focus on carbon dioxide reduction and sequestration in coastal and marine waters, an ad hoc committee will conduct a study to:

a. Identify the most urgent unanswered scientific and technical questions needed to: (i.) assess the benefits, risks, and sustainable scale potential for carbon dioxide removal and sequestration approaches; and (ii.) increase the commercial viability of carbon dioxide removal and sequestration;
b. Define the essential components of a research and development program and specific steps that would be required to answer these questions;
c. Estimate the costs and potential environmental impacts of such a research and development program to the extent possible in the time-frame of the study.
d. Recommend ways to implement such a research and development program that could be used by public or private organizations.
More details on the committee activities and committee members can be found here. The committee's first meeting, held in late October, 2020, included a public session focused on exploring the study’s statement of task with the study sponsor and other stakeholders with interest in ocean-based CDR strategies. Meeting details and videos of the public session presentations can be found here. The committee is organizing a more extensive public workshop on different aspects of ocean CDR to be held in early 2021.

Scott's bio: Scott Doney is the inaugural Joe D. and Helen J. Kington Professor in Environmental Change at the University of Virginia. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research from 1991-1993, and he served as a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research from 1993-2002 and then the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution from 2002-2017 before moving to the University of Virginia. Dr. Doney’s expertise spans oceanography, climate and biogeochemistry, with particular emphasis on the application of numerical models and data analysis to global-scale questions. His research focuses on how the global carbon cycle and ocean ecology respond to natural and human-driven climate change and ocean acidification. His previous experience with the National Academies includes membership on a number of committees in association with the Space Studies Board, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, and Ocean Studies Board. He has also served as an external reviewer for several National Academies reports. Dr. Doney graduated with a BA in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego in 1986 and a PhD in chemical oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography in 1991.

A recent paper discussed by Dr. Doney during the above meeting, entitled, 'From Zero to Hero? Why Integrated Assessment Modeling of Negative Emissions Technologies Is Hard and How We Can Do Better' can be accessed here.

Virginia Tech University Class on the State of the Carbon Cycle

By Brian Strahm, Virginia Tech University

A group of 11 faculty and graduate students in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech recently conceptualized and organized a weekly class, FREC 5884: State of the Carbon Cycle inspired by the Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report, the latest USGCRP Sustained Assessment product. Though the group felt like they had firm foundations in carbon cycle science as it related to their disciplines in forests, soils, and wetlands, they were excited for the opportunity to improve their understanding of the state of the science in related disciplines and efforts to integrate these perspectives at the scale of the continent. 

While each week’s discussion propelled them further toward that goal, a number of other lessons were learned along the way.  In particular, the group was impressed with the process that went into developing a multi-agency synthesis of this scope and scale.  Further, they were continually reminded of the challenges and importance of putting this science in a societally relevant context with important implications for policy.  To that end, they were particularly appreciative of Dr. Gyami Shrestha’s visit and the ideas and opportunities she shared with the students in particular!  


Community Climate Interventions Strategies (CCIS) Workshop

By CCIS Steering Committee

The Community Climate Interventions Strategies workshop was convened virtually from October 28 to 30, 2020.  A total of 250 national and international participants from over 50 universities and 30 government agencies and private sector organizations participated in the workshop plenaries and breakout activities focused on developing a community-led agenda and an open framework for an international, community-based, interdisciplinary research program that aims to holistically assess a portfolio of climate intervention strategies such as carbon dioxide removal (CDR). Preliminary recommendations by the research community include the creation of seven science-themed initial community working groups, enhancing the integration of communication and interdisciplinary research design specialists, and the development of a central communication and resource hub to facilitate associated knowledge exchange. Details, agenda and recordings of this three-day workshop are available here. Details on this community-wide initiative as well as recordings of prior webinars on this topic are available here.
Save the Date: NACP Open Science Meeting

The Open Science Meeting Planning Committee of the North American Carbon Program (NACP) is pleased to announce that the virtual NACP Open Science Meeting will be convened in March 2021 during four Friday afternoon (U.S. Eastern Time), and will likely include a combination of pre-recorded talks, live interactive sessions, posters, and breakout groups. All interested scientists, practitioners, managers and stakeholders are welcome to join this international meeting through which we hope to continue fostering opportunities for new collaborations among the community. Registration and other details will be shared on the NACP Open Science Meeting website soon.


Research Informing Decisions: What does SOCCR2 tell us?

Carbon Cycle Observations and Measurements

In each Carbon Digest, we include pertinent excerpts from the Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2) to inform decisions. Since this issue encompasses public engagement activities related to Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) and AmeriFlux, we are featuring SOCCR2's assessment and compendium of Carbon Cycle Observations and Carbon Measurement Approaches, which are essential to inform and assess strategies for CDR or other climate interventions research.

Over many years, production-based or in-boundary accounting and consumption-based accounting have globally evolved as two approaches to quantify carbon cycle components informing research and analysis for scientific studies as well as for management and decisions. Coordinated research supported and facilitated by multiple agencies in the United States, Canada, and Mexico has enabled significant innovative observational, analytical, and modeling capabilities and approaches (Birdsey et al. 2018) informing the quantification of carbon. Three observational, analytical, and modeling methods are used to measure and estimate carbon stocks and fluxes with observations and modeled data (Shrestha et al. 2018):

1) Inventory measurements or “bottom-up” methods: Estimates of carbon exchange with the atmosphere depend on measurements of carbon contained in biomass, soils, and water, as well as measurements of CO2 and CH4 exchange among the land, water, and atmosphere;
2) Atmospheric measurements or “top-down” methods: Fluxes from the terrestrial land surface and ocean by coupling atmospheric gas measurements (using air sampling instruments on the ground, towers, buildings, balloons, and aircraft or remote sensors on satellites) with carbon isotope methods, tracer techniques, and simulations of how these gases move in the atmosphere;
3) Ecosystem models: Estimate carbon stocks and fluxes with mathematical representations of essential processes, such as photosynthesis and respiration, and how these processes respond to external factors, such as temperature, precipitation, solar radiation, and water movement. Models are also used with top-down atmospheric measurements to attribute observed GHG fluxes to specific terrestrial or ocean features or locations.

Details on many terrestrial, aquatic and atmospheric carbon cycle observations systems and networks informing the above carbon measurement and quantification frameworks are presented in this SOCCR2 compendium.

Useful links:
SOCCR2's  peer-review and assessment development process
SOCCR2's Information Quality Act Process for Highly Influential Scientific Assessments

More news and opportunities.
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Recommended citation format:
Blurb Author Last name, Initials. Year. Blurb Title. [Shrestha G. (Ed)]. Carbon Digest #. Month, Year. U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program. Washington, D.C., USA.
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