Impact of climate-enhanced hydrological intermittency on the carbon cycle of high-mountain watersheds

High-mountains are the “water towers” of the world, supplying a substantial part of water demands for downstream ecosystems and society. Climate Change is hitting them more severely than the world on average leading to most dramatic hydrological alterations. The expectable higher frequency of extreme climatic events will lead to a higher hydrological intermittency, in the sense of a change to a regime characterized by an alternance of extreme situations (droughts-floods). Yet biogeochemistry and ecosystem science have failed to appreciate the role of their headwaters as regulators of carbon transfers from land to the atmosphere and sea. This limitation hinders a deep understanding of how they function and thus our ability to anticipate how a more intermittent future will modify their roles in the broader C cycle. This project's primary goal is to develop a new framework (integrating terrestrial and aquatic as well as gradual and intermittent transitions) for understanding C transport dynamics in high-mountain headwaters and, in doing so, generate new insights on their significance to the broader landscape and regional C cycle. To achieve this, we will set-up a next-generation network of monitoring stations equipped with multiple-parametric sensors to simultaneously gather land and stream hydrologic and biogeochemical data

Duration: December 2021 - November 2024

Funding Agency: Obra Social “La Caixa”

LOOP participants: Lluís Gómez Gener, Jordi Catalan, Lluís Camarero, Antoine Wiedmer

Coordinator : Lluís Gomez Gener

Participant institutions: CREAF, CEAB-CSIC