Why the Program's Research is Important
A significant fraction of the CO₂ released to the atmosphere during energy production is taken up by terrestrial ecosystems. This “sink” for anthropogenic carbon represents an important buffer, offsetting the greenhouse gas effects of CO2 emissions. However, the effects of related processes such as nutrient, water and energy cycling, in addition to climate variability and change on that uptake remain a mystery. Uncertainties about how terrestrial ecosystems will function in a changing climate hamper efforts to determine long-term impacts and stability of carbon in the biosphere. This limitation makes resolving the role of the terrestrial biosphere in the global carbon cycle a high priority.
Future climatic changes will almost certainly affect critically sensitive ecosystems and their inherently important ecosystem processes. Understanding the foundational properties of these ecosystem processes is essential if we are to improve our ability to predicatively model terrestrial ecosystems and potential forcing feedbacks. TES research will continue to navigate the forefront of interactions between terrestrial ecosystems and a changing climate.
The TES program develops unique, foundational scientific insights about the terrestrial biosphere’s role in the global cycling of carbon, nutrients, and water.