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Quantifying the carbon storage potential of terrestrial ecosystems will have to take account of the relative contributions of photosynthesis and respiration to the global carbon cycle. The SOLCA project developed an ambitious approach to tackle this challenge.
The increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere as a result of human activity is impacting the natural carbon cycle, modifying how the element travels between land and atmosphere. How will our future climate impact this exchange? How will ever-growing concentrations of greenhouse gases influence future biosphere CO2 fluxes? The answer may lie at our feet; in the soil beneath us.
Fascinated by clouds and planes since childhood, she became a meteorologist and aerosol scientist. Prof. Bernadett Weinzierl looks at the atmosphere but she also flies through it, aiming to understand what happens in the upper layers of the sky. Using an ERC starting grant for her A-LIFE project, she chases aerosols, those tiny particles suspended in the air which are critically important to the global climate system.
The Earth is made of layers, just like a big onion, composed of different materials. However, the compounds forming these layers are not static, flowing from one stratum to another, following patterns still not entirely understood. Prof. Patrick Cordier tries to model the real conditions minerals are subjected to beneath the Earth’s crust. His aim is to understand the forces driving tectonic plates so we can better comprehend phenomena like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Through her work with the fruit fly Drosophila santomea, Dr Virginie Orgogozo aims to answer one of the most challenging questions of modern evolutionary biology: how do observable characteristics change between species and yet remain stable in a given species?
Researchers supported by the ERC have sampled magmatic gases derived from the Earth's mantle in the Eifel region in Germany. Their analysis of xenon, a rare and inert gas, sampled in bubbling mineral water could bring new insights into the origin of volatile elements, water and gases, that allowed life to develop on Earth.
With her degree in biology, Dr Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla left Mexico and embarked on an international career in epigenetics. She completed her PhD at the Pasteur Institute in Paris and then moved to Cambridge University. In 2006 she joined IGBMC in Strasbourg working as a group leader. She has just been appointed Director of the Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells of the Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich. Supported by an ERC grant, she studies the mechanisms controlling embryonic cellular plasticity with the aim of shedding new light on today's fertility issues. In this interview she shares her story as a non-European scientist in Europe.
Cellular regeneration allows wound healing in humans but in other vertebrates such as salamanders, it goes a step further: they can regenerate their limbs in their full complexity of bones, nerves, muscle and skin and can do it over and over again. Prof. Elly Tanaka studies these amazing capacities and, mirroring the process, has successfully grown a piece of mouse spinal cord in vitro.
To study something in detail you need to look at it from all directions, whether it is the Venus de Milo statue in the Louvre Museum, a car you are thinking of buying, or when using a CAT-scanner to image inside the human body. In the ERC-funded GLOBALSEIS project Professor Guust Nolet is doing this on a truly global scale, by developing a worldwide network of marine-based seismic-wave sensors that can give a much better picture of deep-earth structures and resolve a major paradox in geoscience.
Major floods around the world have raised questions about the frequency and magnitude of such phenomena. Although changes in climate and land use are known to play a critical role in river floods, how they actually translate into considerable variations in intensity remains unknown. Prof. Günter Blöschl addresses this issue.