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Funding partners of the Sino-German NIFROCLIM project are the German Research Foundation/Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

Project partners are a consortium of atmospheric physicists (CAS-IAP), soil biogeochemists (IMK-IFU) as well as soil microbiologists and soil scientists (TUM; CAS-IGA).


The carbon and nitrogen cycling group in IAP-CAS

The Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IAP-CAS), was established in 1966. IAP-CAS mainly engages in the research of numerical weather forecast, air pollution forecast, climate dynamics and climate prediction, satellite meteorology, the urban and regional air pollution, the biosphere-atmosphere matter exchanges and their effects on the environment and climate.
IAP-CAS started the study of CH4 emissions from rice paddies in the mid-1980s. A group of scientists with the backgrounds of atmospheric science, soil science, biogeochemistry, and hydrology works together since then, and gradually formed a carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling research group with the collaboration over three decades. The group expanded their research areas from CH4 emissions from paddy fields to soil C and N transformations and biosphere-atmosphere matter and energy exchanges in terrestrial ecosystems.

The research highlights of the group include:
a)      the development of automated static chamber systems for high-frequency and continuous measurements of CH4, N2O and CO2 fluxes with gas chromatography and off-axis integrated cavity output spectrometer techniques;

b)     the application of isotope pool dilution, isotope tracer, and gas-flow-soil-core techniques to quantify the soil N turnover rates and gaseous N loss potentials;

c)      the establishment of a hydro-biogeochemical catchment model CNMM-DNDC (Catchment Nutrients Management Model - DeNitrification-DeComposition Model) by incorporating the core biogeochemical processes of the DNDC model into the spatially distributed hydrologic framework of the CNMM model.

IAP-CAS and IMK-IFU, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, have been collaborating since 1986, when the first joint research program on CH4 emissions from rice paddies in China was started. Since then, both institutions have established continuous and good cooperative relations. Now the two institutes jointly coordinate the NIFROCLIM project and collaborate closely on the research of permafrost N cycling and N climate feedbacks.

Belonging to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Atmospheric Environmental Research (KIT-Campus Alpin, IMK-IFU) is coordinating NIFROCLIM together with IAP-CAS. The IMK-IFU has gained national and international reputation for its expertise in exchange processes between the biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere, with a strong focus on greenhouse gas exchange and other environmental relevant compounds.

Further research foci are impacts of climate change and the development of process-based biogeochemical models. In the last two decades, the researchers involved in NIFROCLIM have focused on carbon and nitrogen turnover processes and the associated biosphere-atmosphere exchange of gaseous C and N species. Fully automated measurement systems allow to investigate the soil source strength for NO, N2O and N2 in high temporal resolution and have already been deployed in various international projects. In addition, the KIT is proficient in the application of stable isotope techniques to study biogoechemical processes. The Center of Stable Isotope Analysis offers excellent instrumentation and has resulted in the advancement of methods quantifying gross rates of carbon and nitrogen turnover.

IAP-CAS and IMK-IFU have been collaborating since 1986. Since then, both institutions have established continuous and good cooperative relations. Now the two institutes jointly coordinate the NIFROCLIM project and collaborate closely on the research of permafrost N cycling and N climate feedbacks.



The Chair of Soil Science focuses on the general characterization of soil organic matter (SOM) and the identification and extraction of functional soil organic matter pools that are important for long term stabilization of carbon in soils and at the same time are responsible for the formation of biogeochemical interfaces in aggregated soils. We use state-of-the-art techniques of SOM characterization by combining solid-state 13C NMR spectroscopy to analyze bulk SOM composition with chemolytic techniques and GC-MS for the analysis of major SOM compounds relevant for the soil carbon cycle, especially polysaccharides, lignin and cutin/suberin. Structural chemical as well as spatial variability of SOM has to be considered in order to understand the sensitivity of SOM pools to degradation. For this we use nano-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS), allowing the simultaneous analysis of up to seven ion species with high sensitivity and resolution. It is an unprecedented tool for the analysis of biogeochemical processes and properties of soils, as it enables us to investigate the elemental and isotopic composition of soils at the submicron scale.

The Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IGA-CAS), established in 1958, is a comprehensive research and training base specialized in geography, agriculture, ecology, and environmental science and technology. IGA-CAS has been conducting research on wetland since its establishment and has set up the wetland observation network consisting of five research stations in Northeast China. The wetland and global change group in IGA-CAS mainly focuses on studies of ecological processes in wetlands under global change.