Removing, managing, and storing greenhouse gases

MIT Faculty and Researchers

Charles Harvey (lead), Tami Lieberman (lead), Heidi Nepf (lead), Saurabh Amin, David Des Marais, David Hsu, David McGee, Darcy McRose, J. Taylor Perron, Cesar Terrer

External Collaborators

N. Michele Holbrook (Harvard University), Benton Taylor (Harvard University), Bruce Hungate (Northern Arizona University), Ashok A. Kumar (Indigo Ag), Architecture & Planning

Research summary

Managing terrestrial carbon is a Climate Grand Challenge — a challenge for climate science, mitigation, and adaptation. Terrestrial ecosystems remove about one-third of fossil fuel emissions from the atmosphere, yet we do not know where this carbon goes or how long the sink can last. Agriculture has depleted soils of enormous quantities of carbon, yet we don’t know how best to reverse this flux. To meet these challenges, our project targets a portfolio of different ecosystems chosen from across the world. In wetlands, we are experimenting with hydrologic engineering to enhance carbon sequestration; in forests, we are finding new clever ways to address key uncertainties; in agricultural soils, we are applying new metagenomic tools to understand fundamental processes. By combining these efforts, and more, we will identify the best places to store carbon. We will elucidate scientifically sound, verifiable, and long-term solutions for fighting climate change with plants and soils.

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