European Research: ULB is coordinator of the Marie Curie Training network C-CASCADES, Carbon Cascades from Land to Ocean in the Anthropocene

One of the top priorities in the Earth System science is to better understand the transfer of carbon between terrestrial ecosystems and the ocean at the planetary scale and its implications for atmospheric CO2 levels and climate.

Thanks to the support of the European Communities and the Swiss Government, scientists from 13 research institutions and the private sector from 8 different countries are gathering within the C-CASCADES network to break disciplinary boundaries and better understand the role of the land-ocean carbon interface in the Earth’s system dynamics. This consortium is coordinated by the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and led by Prof. Pierre Regnier, a head of Biogeochemistry and Modelling of the Earth System group at the Faculty of Sciences. Within C-CASCADES, 15 PhD students from around the world will conduct cutting-edge research in the top European research centers, participate in numerous training meetings and summer schools, and collaborate with their peers during extended visits to partner institutions, creating a network that will help shaping the future generation of Earth system scientists.

These young scientists will start original research focusing on the analysis of the transport, transformation and fate of carbon along the aquatic continuum consisting of streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs, the coastal ocean and, ultimately, the open ocean. The PhD students and their supervisors will dedicate significant effort to better quantify the exchange of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and CH4 with the atmosphere and their impact on the climate system. Cutting-edge technologies will be deployed, from novel greenhouse gas sensors to state-of-the-art global Earth System models.

Terrestrial vegetation takes up a significant fraction of the carbon emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil), and thus provide a key ‘ecosystem service’ for human well-being and our planet. The overarching goal of C-CASCADES is to evaluate whether this carbon is durably sequestered in terrestrial ecosystems (biomass, soils, permafrost) or if is irreversibly leaking into the aquatic continuum and partly reemitted back to the atmosphere. More specifically, the researchers will study the extent to which human activities (land-use change, water management, CO2 increase and related climate change) accelerate the carbon transfer between land and the ocean-atmosphere system at the planetary scale. The current and future impacts of these human-induced perturbations on the ocean carbon cycle, atmospheric CO2 levels and climate will also be quantified.

The knowledge gained during the course of C-CASCADES will support future syntheses efforts conducted by the Global Carbon Project and the IPCC.

The network comprises the following partners : Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), Coordinator; CONTROS Systems & Solutions GmbH (Germany) ; Deltares (The Netherlands) ; Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland) ; the Global Carbon Project (Australia) ; Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany) ; Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace (CNRS, France); Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology (Germany); Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (Switzerland) ; University of Bristol (UK),University of Exeter (UK) ; Uppsala University (Sweden) ; Veolia-Environnement (France).

Scientific Contact:

Prof. Pierre Regnier
Biogeochemistry and Modelling of the Earth System - Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
phone: + 32 (0)2 650 36 71 // +32 (0)494880776  e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.