Maarten Eppinga and Hugo de Boer from the Environmental Sciences group organized a session with the focus on Global Change Ecology. This session featured presentations from invited international researchers and Copernicus researchers investigating the human impact on ecological processes and how this impact could be mitigated.
The first international speaker to present his work was David Beerling from the University of Sheffield. David presented a thought-provoking modeling study that investigated the idea to artificially enhance the chemical weathering sink for CO2 by spreading pulverized silicate rocks across one-third of the tropical land surface. This geo-engineering approach could lower atmospheric CO2 by up to ~100-260 ppm by the end of the century. Of course David Beerling was not saying we should go out and do this immediately, however, he did highlight the importance to investigate the potential of such ideas and understand the adverse and positive side-effects.
The third international speaker was Susan Galatowitsch from the University of Minnesota. Her presentation focused on restoration ecology. When visiting restoration projects across the world, she found that most attention goes to ‘getting the practical restoration work’ done and that there is much less attention for the actual results of all of this practical work. Very few projects are correctly and regularly monitored and there is also a knowledge gap on how to do this monitoring correctly and efficient.
The session was concluded by Martin Wassen and Max Rietkerk with inspiring visions on how research on the topic Global Change Ecology should take shape in the future. In short, they noted the importance to bridge spatial and temporal scales in the understanding how ecosystem processes are affected by human pressure. Also they noted that, although interdisciplinary work and large scale simulations are important, we should not forget to continue to do research on fundamental processes.