Carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles are rarely studied together through the air, land-water continuum. This limits our ability to develop integrated catchment management solutions to deliver a wide range of ecosystem functions and services such as water quality, carbon sequestration and climate regulation, plus habitat provision for wild species diversity.
The integrated management of ecosystem functions, the services they deliver and their trade-offs is now firmly embedded in UK-government-thinking (e.g. National Ecosystem Assessment, 2011; Government White Paper, 2011). This approach is essential if the UK is to meet national and international commitments on greenhouse gas emissions (Kyoto reporting), water quality (Water Framework Directive) and biodiversity protection (Convention on Biodiversity). Meeting these commitments requires improved understanding of the integration of C, N and P cycles at scales appropriate for land- and water-managers.
Turf2Surf will deliver improved understanding and will test hypotheses regarding when, where and how carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles are coupled through the air / land-water continuum.
Existing landscape-based biogeochemical models will be enhanced and integrated with estuarine models to explain nutrient transformations, coupled cycling, and fluxes from the headwaters to the coast. The project will exploit the data-rich platform of the Conwy 'Source to Sea' catchment, supplemented by further experiments within the Ribble catchment.
New monitoring and experimental work will focus on current knowledge-gaps in coupled macronutrient cycling that were identified from previous monitoring and modelling work. This will be done with respect to two critical processes:
Furthermore, coupled nutrient cycling will also be studied in terms of terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity and the links to waste breakdown, in particular the fate of human pathogens. The experimental work will focus on key 'hotspots' within a catchment, namely upland soils, the riparian zone, in-stream, and the riverine estuarine transition zone.
A key aspect is to identify functional units within the landscape related to coupled nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, water quality and biodiversity as a basis for catchment management.