A practical tool and robust framework for evaluating greenhouse gas emissions from land-based activities

Land can be used for a variety of purposes, which can be associated with various greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes. Recently, there has been particular interest in how large-scale changes in land use may be able to offset emissions and play an important role in the UK’s climate change mitigation efforts. The agriculture sector is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and the development of appropriate mitigation policies must be informed by accurate metrics that can reflect their impact on the climate.

The aim of this project is to develop a tool that can be used to link the GHG emissions associated with different land uses to their global warming impacts. Typical methods currently used to aggregate short-lived and long-lived GHGs do not preserve the link to warming, and are therefore unsuitable for evaluating warming impacts of combined emissions. The tool developed in this project would overcome this problem and provide a transparent means of estimating and communicating the climate impacts of different land-uses. Scaled up, it would also provide a novel, scientifically robust framework to assess the climate impacts of major landscape decisions. The method will be based on recent work in Lynch et al (2020) and Cain et al (2019).

This project will develop a method to evaluate aggregated GHG emissions in a way that reflects the resultant warming from different management options for an intensive dairy farm in south west Scotland. We will use data collected over the past five years, comparing alternative management options. The method used will be compared to a simple climate model to demonstrate is the impact of alternative approaches on accounting for greenhouse gas emissions.

Co-Investigator Michelle Cain introduces the project in this short video
Project outputs:
1. Lynch, J., Cain, M., Pierrehumbert, R., & Allen, M. (2020). Demonstrating GWP*: a means of reporting warming-equivalent emissions that captures the contrasting impacts of short- and long-lived climate pollutants. Environmental Research Letters15(4), 044023. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab6d7e

2. Cain, M., Lynch, J., Allen, M. R., Fuglestvedt, J. S., Frame, D. J., & Macey, A. H. (2019). Improved calculation of warming-equivalent emissions for short-lived climate pollutants. Npj Climate and Atmospheric Science2(1), 29. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41612-019-0086-4
Link to the project page on the UKRI Gateway to Research: https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=NE%2FT004053%2F1