Carbon Fluxes in Hydrologic and Geologic Processes
Distribution of carbon in biomass (above) and soils (below) in the conterminous U.S.
This project seeks to evaluate and understand the processes that control and respond to changes in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Research interests include the natural cycling of CO2 and carbon through plants, soils, water, rocks, and sediments. The project studies the causes and effects of past geologic changes in atmospheric CO2 levels, and the ongoing effects of human actions on CO2 and climate. A wide range of methods and perspectives are applied to understand atmospheric CO2 as a critical mediator between many natural processes that sustain life on Earth and many socioeconomic activities that sustain human society. Specific objectives include:
Evaluate local to global carbon fluxes associated with hydrologic and geologic processes; and understand how these processes affect and respond to ecosystems.
Investigate past variations in carbon fluxes and their relevance to the understanding of current and potential future variations in carbon fluxes.
Understand the effects of deliberate carbon sequestration and other forms of human carbon-cycle management.
Why is this research important?
This project addresses questions with fundamental relevance to the interactions among carbon fluxes, human activities, natural processes, and climate change. At local or regional scales, project scientists study fluxes of carbon compounds that may be affected by land and water management activities. At the global scale, the project is concerned with the interactions between the carbon cycle and global climate, and contributes to the overall USGS program of activities related to climate and global environmental change.