Tough Choices - Land Use under a Changing Climate: German-US Conference and Scientific Field Trip
From 2 to 4 October 2008, a joint German-US conference convened 80 scientists from both sides of the Atlantic to address future land use strategies and identifying common research goals. A complementing post-conference program included field visits to the Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) and the German Meteorological Service (DWD).
The joint conference focused on the conflict between future land use strategies with regard to food and fiber production, ecosystem services, human settlements, and production of renewable energies. These conflicts are the result of limited global land resources and the impacts of climate change which vary widely across regions. In order to analyze the trade offs involved in introducing land-use alternatives for mitigation and adaptation to achieve more beneficial allocation decisions and to use land resources in more sustainable ways, both a scientific basis and the proper management tools are necessary. Because such a complex multi-objective research task extends far beyond the scope of a single discipline, it is necessary to adopt a new integrative research approach which transcends disciplinary boundaries to integrate social, economic and natural science.
A scientific field trip after the conference helped further enhance dialogue between the experts from the US and Germany, while exploring examples of applied science: At the Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), the group was introduced to scientific research on ecosystems in agricultural landscapes and to ecologically sound land use systems.
The group learned specifically about automatic in-field chambers for measuring gas-fluxes of arable crops, reduced soil tilling systems, and insect presence as an indicator for detecting changes in climate (German Entomology Institute - DEI). At the German Meteorological Service's (DWD) Richard-Aßmann-Observatory in Lindenberg, the group was introduced to techniques for detecting and interpreting the physical structure of the atmosphere between the earth's surface and the stratosphere. Systems for monitoring climate and environmental processes through the "Lindberg column" concept, involving surface observations and active and passive remote-sensing techniques, were also presented.
The conference and scientific field trip, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), were organized by the German National Committee on Global Change Research (NKGCF) in cooperation with Ecologic Institute.