Energy Center

Sigma Xi Seminar

March 9 @ 4:30 PM - - Dean's Auditorium, Pfendler Hall Reception to Follow in Pfendler Gallery

Professor Kevin Gurney Departments of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and Agronomy Purdue Climate Change Research Center Purdue University “Chasing carbon through the Earth System … or how I came to care about trains, planes, trees and dirt”* *Abstract* Understanding the magnitude and mechanisms of carbon exchange between the land and atmosphere has emerged as a crucial component of reliably projecting climate change. It remains unclear whether a warmer land surface will continue to remove a share of anthropogenic CO_2 emissions or act as a carbon source in the future. Answering this fundamental global change question requires traversing disciplinary boundaries and transcending multiple space and time scales. In this talk I will describe my current research activities and how they evolved from my attempt to answer the aforementioned central global change question. The first research theme I will discuss utilizes atmospheric CO_2 to understand the global biosphere. Often referred to as an “inverse approach”, this branch of biogeochemistry combines knowledge of atmospheric transport with space/time patterns of atmospheric CO_2 to infer net biome productivity. I will demonstrate that there is far more ecological knowledge embedded in the inverse “signal” than previously thought. Reliable results to the inverse approach rely on accurate quantification of another important carbon flux – that due to the combustion of fossil fuels. Though traditionally considered a “known”, the advent of satellite CO_2 monitoring and increasing /in situ/ carbon measurement density, have put considerable pressure on improving this portion of the global carbon cycle. Hence, my second research theme – high resolution quantification of fossil fuel CO_2 emissions. Known as the “Vulcan Project” (after the Roman god of fire), this effort has expanded and is now utilized in a variety of disciplinary research settings and as a decision support tool at multiple scales. A pilot effort, called “Hestia” has achieved building/street level quantification across the city of Indianapolis. Exploring the relationship between climate and terrestrial carbon exchange with increasingly powerful simulation models has illuminated a suite of important biophysical feedbacks. This is the focus of my third theme in which I will describe our attempt to simulate realistic tropical deforestation within an Earth System Model by incorporating human decisionmaking into the middle of the climate-deforestation feedback. --------------------------------------- Professor Gurney is the recipient of the 2010 Sigma Xi Young Investigator Award. This award is made annually by the National Chapter of Sigma Xi to recognize research excellence. Professor Gurney is the first winner of this award from Purdue University. Professor Gurney is a member of the American Geophysical Union, the Ecological Society of America, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Xi. He is a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and an organizational co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in connection with the IPCC. His has received grants to support his work from NSF, NASA, DOE, and other organizations.**

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