What is a Carbon Landscape?

A carbon landscape is not a new type of landscape, but a new way of seeing our surroundings. Glacial landscapes and volcanic landscapes conjure easily exciting images of beautiful, dynamic and often brooding, majestic landscapes. They need no further description. But have you paused to think what other landscapes we find on Earth? Look at the plants, the trees, the soil; notice the streams, river and lakes. All these components of your environment are rich in carbon, as are some rocks such as limestone, and we can see that. Further, there is also C we cannot see in the form of the gases carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. The former is converted to plant vegetation by photosynthesis to produce the biomass we can see in our carbon landscape; the latter emitted from soils lacking oxygen and only when oxidised by bacteria as an energy source, is it converted to biomass. However, carbon stored in a landscape is not fixed, but can be gained and lost, transferring from one storage compartment to another due to the interaction of physical and chemical processes. To understand our carbon landscapes better interesting questions to answer include:

  • How is C is gained, lost or stored in a landscape?
  • How quickly do these transfers of C between different compartments take place?
  • How can we visualise best these different reservoirs and how carbon is transferred?



Why think about it now?

With projected climate change prompting C trading, managing our naturally stored C will become increasingly important. We can only do this if we are aware of the way in which a landscape gains, loses and recycles C. Depending on societal response to our changing climate, we may find our natural environments have a monetary value, quantifiable through systematic approaches in describing the landscape. What more appropriate than through a recognised carbon landscape?



Carbon Landscapes Research Group

As a research scientist working for many years on C cycling in the natural environment, when Susan Waldron came across the term ‘carbon landscapes’ in a British Geomorphological magazine she realised that this approach to interpreting a landscape was one which suited her research activities. She now leads the thriving Carbon Landscapes Research Group in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow.

The group work on an array of projects all linked to carbon cycling and processes. If you would like to know more about the research being undertaken please see the projects page on this site. We have access to a wide range of field and lab based equipment including:

  • Picarro CRDS for measurement of δ13C in CO2 and CH4
  • LI-COR eddy covariance system for CO2 and CH4
  • DOC analyser
  • Field spectrophotometer
  • Water quality data loggers
  • Rotary evaporator
  • Freeze-drier
  • Analysis@GES
  • G-MOL
  • Landrover

To get involved with the group please see our opportunities page or contact Susan direct.


Would you like to do research within this group?

We are always interested in supporting interested researchers in securing funding to come and do research within our group. Please contact Susan Waldron to discuss further.

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