Andreas Heinemeyer (RA)
Ecosystem Ecologist, University of York CTCD-York,
Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI-York) at the Environment Department/
Grimston House; Heslington York YO 10 5DD, UK.

SEI: +44 1904 32 2991 ;  Fax (SEI): +44 1904 32 2898; 



I obtained a German Diploma at the University of Göttingen (Prof. Runge) in 1998 and after a move to the British Isles completed my Ph.D. at the University of York (Prof. Fitter) in 2002. Whereas the former investigated the influence of environmental impacts on the eastern distribution boundary of Digitalis purpurea L., the latter became more soil-focused, investigating impacts of temperature and light on carbon partitioning in the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis. During this study I became increasingly concerned with soil carbon budgets and fluxes and their responses to environmental change. I’ve organised the YorkTechniques in AM research” course during 1990-93 (see links). My involvement with stable isotopes (i.e. 13C) started during my Ph.D., when I was lucky enough to have met Phil Ineson, who became my PI in the Centre for Terrestrial Carbon Dynamics (CTCD) for which I am the post-doctoral research assistant at the soils team at York since August 2002 within the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO).

Currently I am working on four main research topics within CTCD/NCEO:


Research topics and projects: CTCD-York

Research topics:

i) relationships between climate and soil carbon stores
ii) potential impacts of future atmospheric CO2 levels on soil processes
iii) the role of soils in producing 'greenhouse gases'

iv) including crucial pedogenesis in soil C models

v) investigating the role of EO in soil carbon cycle research

CTCD projects:

· Assessing and reducing the uncertainty in the UK carbon budget
· Assessing environmental impacts on soil carbon fluxes
· Improving existing soil carbon models
· Assessing the potential usage of earth observation (EO)
· Measuring carbon fluxes in an upland moorland

One of the greatest problems facing mankind is the impact of environmental change on fundamental aspects of the chemistry, physics and ecology of the Earth at the global scale. Soil is a major component in the global carbon cycle and vulnerable to impacts of human activity; we carry out research into the relationships between climate and soil carbon stores, the role of soils in producing 'greenhouse gases' and the potential impacts of future atmospheric CO2 levels on soil processes. Even small changes in this large carbon stock have the potential of a dramatic feedback on climate change if current carbon sinks become sources through environmental change. Our global models still lack proper representation of organic soil and peatland soil C stocks with potential feedback implications in the climate cycle. We thus need to better translate field process level understanding into model structures to overcome these limitations.

CTCD-York focuses on 4 projects:

(i) assessing the uncertainty in the UK to global carbon budget data using GIS mapping techniques and field based research. Main focus is the assessment of the new (2003) UK soil carbon map and the ISLSCP II data; I have established links to Silsoe (Cranfield University), MLURI (Scotland), CEH (Edinburgh) and JRC (EU) research staff.

(ii) improving our understanding of soil carbon process responses to environmental factors (e.g. temperature) and assessing the importance of separating soil microbial from root respiration; a main focus will be on forest soils and northern peatlands. A new approach is the York based mobile stable isotope laboratory unit. The system comprises a customised gas chromatograph isotope ratio mass spectrometer (GC-IRMS) dedicated for 13CO2 determination under field conditions, housed in an air conditioned mobile laboratory with attendant temperature regulation and gas flow for 16 air lines. The equipment is capable of automatic operation, without user intervention, for periods of up to 2 days. Application of this technique in the field will enable us to instantaneously monitor and partition carbon fluxes under labelled and natural abundance levels in connection with treatments such as soil trenching and soil warming (e.g. infra-red light). We will also attempt to use this approach to link soil carbon fluxes to changes in the canopy environment via natural (photosynthetic) discrimination against 13C within the canopy.

(iii) improving existing soil organic carbon models (SOMs such as Century) in testing basic hypotheses in field and lab based approaches and feeding results back into the models. A main concern is to revise parameters of temperature sensitivity used by SOMs and to assess how to enable current SOMs to model organic rich soils (e.g. peatlands). I have since created the MILLENNIA model which builds up peatland soil C over millennia based on a variable Holocene climate considering long-term dynamic plant functional type and soil hydrological (i.e. water table) changes. My work also assesses how to include or improve future use of other sources of data such as satellite imagery in order to improve soil carbon models.

(iv) assessing the importance and potential of Earth Observation (EO) data for improved soil carbon data and processes understanding. This involves using Ground Penetrating Radar and satellite technology for detecting peat depths and soil water table dynamics etc.

As most UK soil carbon is stored in upland peatlands we are specifically assessing the above research aims at a UK upland moorland site: Moor House, within the joint CTCD-CLASSIC work and at Lake Vyrnwy within the joint UKPopNet NERC project.