North American Carbon Program (NACP) Mid-Continent 2007 Intensive Underway

March 18, 2006

Forty scientists from a broad spectrum of universities and NOAA, NASA, DOE, USDA, and USFS met in Boulder 21-22 February 2006 to consolidate plans for the multi-disciplinary Mid-Continent Carbon Intensive study scheduled for the 2007 growing season. The Intensive is designed to measure the carbon budget at the regional scale using a variety of different research methods and datasets over the mid-continent region covering eastern South Dakota, eastern Kansas, northern Missouri, Iowa, southern Minnesota, southern Wisconsin, and Illinois. The Intensive will support goals of the NACP by establishing methodology for making regional carbon flux and flux uncertainty estimates that can be applied to other regions, and the continent as a whole. The Intensive study region was selected because of its flat terrain, the prevalence of agricultural ecosystems for which there is a wealth of relevant data such as crop yields, and its low population density.


The Mid-Continent 2007 Intensive study is envisioned as a series of coordinated field experiments that will bring together scientists from a range of backgrounds, including ecologists, agricultural researchers, atmospheric scientists and remote sensing experts. A wide variety of data will be collected, such as atmospheric CO2, CO, and CH4 concentrations, other trace gas and isotope concentrations, eddy covariance measurements of CO2 fluxes, and measurements of carbon stocks in crops, forests and soils. LandSat, MODIS, and other remote sensing imagery as well as meteorological datasets, agricultural inventory data such as crop yields, and fossil fuel inventories, will also be used to put in perspective the carbon cycle trace gas data.


Resolving the strength, locations, and causes of the North American sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide is a key requirement in our effort to understand and mitigate the global increase of this critical, climatically important gas. The major objective of the experiment is to identify and reconcile differences that may arise between "top-down" estimates of regional carbon fluxes based on atmospheric concentration data and "bottom-up" flux estimates derived from inventory data and ecosystem process models.

The NACP is a key element of the U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program, which is an interagency project under the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Contributing agencies to this multi-million dollar effort are NOAA, NASA, DOE, USDA, NSF, USFS, the Smithsonian Institution, and USGS. Tall tower and aircraft profile trace gas measurements provided by the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory are core components of the Mid-Continent Intensive and the NACP.

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