701-1646-00L  Carbon and Nutrient Cycling in a Changing Climate and Land-Use

SemesterSpring Semester 2020
LecturersF. Hagedorn, T. Crowther, S. Dötterl
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


AbstractThe course covers the pools and fluxes of carbon and nutrients in forests and dynamic landscapes and how they are affected by a changing climate and land-use. Specifically, the course explores carbon and nutrient cycling: (i) in vegetation and soils at the plot to global scale; (ii) the role of abiotic soil properties as controls; and (iii) the effects of climate changes and land management.
ObjectiveThe students learn to identify, analyze and propose solutions for problems associated with land management and climate change on carbon and nutrient cycling in forests and dynamic landscapes.
ContentAfter short thematic introductions, the students will work in small groups on the following topics:

Part 1 Carbon and nutrient pools and fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems of Switzerland
o Carbon and nutrient cycles from the plot to national scale
o Impacts of land use changes on biomass and soil carbon
o Effects of soil warming and drought

Part 2: Rock, soil, sediment: Geomorphic cascades and soil weathering
o Weathering and geochemistry as controls on carbon and nutrient cycles
o Feedbacks between soil development, soil transport and soil loss for carbon cycling
o Global patterns and consequences of disturbance for soil landscapes

Part 3: Global biogeochemical cycles and climate change
o Global biogeochemical cycles and impacts on climate
o Carbon cycle feedbacks to climate change
o Changes in global nutrient balance

The students will work on specific projects which includes the evaluation and interpretation of data as well as the preparation of a presentation either as a poster, report or a talk.
Prerequisites / NoticeApart from a background in terrestrial ecosystems, the students must have basic knowledge in soil sciences, plant nutrition, and biogeochemical cycles. Given that the background of the students will be very heterogeneous, the course will build on individual learning and interactive teaching.

The format of the course is that the students work in small groups of 2 or 3 members on a small project in each of the three parts of the course. Introductory information will be given on the first day of the course and at the beginning of each part. For structuring the project, homework will be given from week to week. Each group will do a poster presentation (end of part 1), a short report (end of part 2) and an oral presentation (end of part 3) on their respective subjects. Active participation at all contact hours is compulsory for all students.