Arctic, subarctic and alpine lands contribute comparably little to climate mitigation through carbon sequestration. Since policies are mostly concerned with carbon sequestration, cold lands have received little attention in a climate mitigation context. However, by ignoring biogeophysical processes, which potentially offset biogeochemical effects, policies risk promoting suboptimal solutions: ensuring effective climate protection through land management requires consideration of combined biogeochemical and biophysical processes. Arctic and alpine lands reflect much of the incoming solar energy, a process known as albedo, which contributes to cooling of the Earth. The potential of using pale, high-albedo vegetation in climate regulation is incompletely elucidated. VANWHITE targets these shortages by emphasizing both the biogeophysical and the biogeochemical features of the Arctic and the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau and their potentials as climate regulation services, within a socioeconomic framework. This project will therefore be a truly multidisciplinary network consisting of Norwegian, Chinese and American scientists, with inter-sectorial cross-cutting between science, society and policy. As the project focuses on current and future physical appearance of vast cool alpine and arctic regions, it will be of high relevance to the human population, nature management, industries and policymaking. The project consists of five work packages, targeting the carbon economy and albedo of pale ecosystems in contrast to darker ecosystems; the past dynamics and current status of pale vegetation surfaces; the major global and local stressors of pale vegetation surfaces; the climate impact of pale vegetation surfaces; and management strategies for enhancing the climate-regulating services of arctic and alpine lands.
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