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Quantification of the role of key terrestrial ecosystems in the carbon cycle and related climate effects
Cluster 5 - Destination 1: Climate sciences and responses for the transformation towards climate neutrality
Estimated EU contribution per project
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Link to the submission
A comprehensive assessment and quantification of the role of terrestrial biogeochemical dynamics and the role of vegetation in the carbon cycle, compared to the pre-industrialisation situation, building on dedicated in situ data collection, novel satellite data development, and advanced carbon cycle modelling.
The main challenge of this topic is to develop an enhanced capacity to better characterise and reduce uncertainties of the carbon cycle related to key terrestrial European ecosystems as a function of anthropogenic emissions, environmental forcing conditions, and management practices. In order for this challenge to be met, actions should be performed at spatial resolutions required to represent the mechanisms by which human interventions necessary to move towards net-zero carbon balance, can be quantified. Further, the dynamics and response of vegetation to climate change, short- and long-term stress, natural dynamics (e.g. fire), and especially change in frequency, form and severity of extreme events, need to be better understood and quantified.
Proposals should address the above challenges through:
- Coordinated European effort to expand dedicated campaigns to collect in situ-data, including from citizen observations, on land cover, land use and related changes, and on the main processes caused by these, to support the modelling of these changes based on current and historical trends, and to develop empirically based scenarios connecting land use and land cover change to carbon emissions, and sequestration potential.
- Advances in land surface and carbon modelling supported by high-performance computing capacity, allowing models to be run at unprecedented resolutions, and accuracy, through improved data assimilation workflow from remotely sensed data and vegetation models. The emphasis should be on area wide effect of the ecosystem’s microbiome, and consistency across spatial and temporal resolution and with satellite observation processes.
- Extending and complementing satellite observations with elements linked to the LUCAS survey of Eurostat, to the EU Soil Observatory (EUSO) initiatives on integrated soil monitoring systems, and to research infrastructure e.g. eLTER and ICOS, as well as through comparison with past data and through coordination with Earth observation efforts (spectral signature characterisation, biophysical and biogeochemical observations commensurate with satellite resolutions, aircraft / unmanned aerial vehicle campaigns).
- Specific efforts to develop carbon and land surface models consistent with specific variables or outputs that can be directly interfaced or compared with satellite observations e.g. above ground biomass, soil moisture, solar induced fluorescence, disturbance dynamics e.g. fire, and inclusion of additional key processes (coupling with Nitrogen and Phosphorus cycles and water, CO2 fertilisation, assimilation of photosynthesis rates from global observation for direct gross primary production estimation).
- A significant coordination effort and collaboration with the relevant activities of major international scientific groups (e.g., IPCC, Global Carbon Project), the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service and the ESA Carbon Science Cluster.
This topic is part of a coordination initiative between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the EC on Earth System Science. Under the EC-ESA Earth System Science Initiative, both institutions aim at coordinating efforts to support complementary collaborative projects, funded on the EC side through Horizon Europe, and on the ESA side through the ESA FutureEO programme as part of the ESA Carbon Science Cluster.
Proposals should address the collaboration with ongoing or future ESA projects, including those that will be funded through dedicated coordinated invitations to tender, and should towards this end include sufficient means and resources for effective coordination.
Applicants should ensure coordination with complementary projects funded under the ESA Carbon Science Cluster of the FutureEO programme including relevant ESA activities related to the use of the novel BIOMASS and FLEX missions and potentially the Copernicus CO2M mission in the future.
Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following outcomes:
- Enhanced understanding and characterisation of the terrestrial carbon pools and fluxes, including through taking account of hydrological exchanges, with unprecedented accuracies and spatial scales, building on the advent of a new generation of satellite missions (e.g., ESA’s BIOMASS, FLEX, Sentinel missions, NASA’s NISAR, GEDI, ICESat-2 etc…), that radically change the way the terrestrial carbon cycle can be observed.
- Improved methods for the monitoring of key ecosystems state in Europe, regarding terrestrial carbon, including e.g. forestry, croplands, peatlands, inland water, extensive grasslands, tundra, tidal marshes, seagrass, and mangroves, and tackling key gaps in observations, e.g. age-structure, species richness, canopy structure (including use of Terrestrial Laser Scanning), observations of wood density, interaction with hydrology and exchange with the atmosphere in particular observations of biological volatile organic compounds, CO2, CH4, N2O, and black carbon/particulates emissions.
- Improved handling of anthropogenic management practices (land use including forestry) in terrestrial carbon modelling, including lateral transfers of carbon (notably in the form of harvested biomass including exports, imports, and use as well of land-water exchange).
- Improved understanding of impacts on the carbon cycle of extreme events (wind throw, drought, pest outbreaks, fire), and of the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance including degradation and behaviour and recovery of forest post-disturbance.
- Improved consistency between top-down methods such as atmospheric inversions and bottom-up approaches based on land-surface models, in-situ and satellite observation, flux measurements, and national and global statistics.
- Assessment of the consistency of observation and advanced models through benchmarking activities at multiple scales including point measurements, and satellite observations at multiple temporal and spatial resolutions.
- Novel monitoring frameworks combining remote and proximate sensing techniques with machine learning and edge computing.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), New Zealand (Aotearoa), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
- at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
other eligibility criteria
If projects use satellite-based earth observation, positioning, navigation and/or related timing data and services, beneficiaries must make use of Copernicus and/or Galileo/EGNOS (other data and services may additionally be used).
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.