Action plan

Approach using multi-satellite data calibrated and validated by ground measurements contrasted with information from local knowledge

  • Monitor the water balance, changes in land use / cover carbon sequestration by plant biomass
  • Constrain digital models of process geology and water flow

Approach based on a hydrological continuum taking advantage of existing research stations

  • Quantify and model the export of organic products and inorganic carbon, other nutrients and trace metals
  • Quantify and model carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Predict the state of the ecosystem for the next 30-100 years

Stake of the transdisciplinary approach combining local & regional scales

  • Design scenarios, data / decision support tools and sustainable management options on mitigating the negative effects of climate and globalization effects
  • Implement capacity building activities for young scientists, land managers and decision makers.

Work package

WP1. Project coordination and management

WP1 is the backbone of VULCAR-FATE. A special attention will be paid to the team’s composition, which has to closely follow the R&I and TD activities in both countries (see Management Plan, section 15).

T1.1. Building collectively a Research & innovation strategy and work plan

An agile/dynamic and operational project strategy and work plan will be collectively built to ensure a correct implementation and to optimise the project’s impacts, accounting for local contexts and stakeholder’s visions and expectations.

T1.2. Monitoring and reporting on R&I activities

We will ensure that the activities are carried out according to plan and that quality deliverables are produced on time. With respect to internal reporting, every six months a short progress report will be prepared by WP leaders to summarize the work progress and costs incurred in the reporting period.

T1.3. Managing administrative/financial procedures

This task will ensure the transparent use of public funds and the fulfilment of the objectives within the time frame and available resources. A financial dashboard will be shared and updated.

WP2. Water and carbon balance and climate change projections

The WP2 goal is to combine approaches using Earth system observation multi-satellite data calibrated and validated by high-frequency ground measurements on regional scale to constrain numerical models of biogeochemical and geological processes and water flow in both sites. The different components of the water balance (precipitation, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, groundwater inflow, and stream and groundwater outflow), land use/cover changes impacting the carbon storage by vegetation will be investigated. Downscaling the Regional Climate Models will enable to assess climate change projections.

T2.1. Building the project database

Building a consistent database is a key prerequisite for all WPs to facilitate the sharing and exchange of data amongst partners, and make our own data access free to the scientific community at the end of the project. We will collaboratively collect all relevant observational datasets related to the project’s goals.

T2.2. Determining the water balance

Changes in groundwater storage will be monitored by combining information from remote sensing and hydrological models, including monthly / sub-monthly terrestrial water storage with anomalies from Gravity Recovery and Climate Experience (GRACE) satellite missions. and GRACE Follow-On (GRACE FO).

Soil moisture products will be obtained either from satellite observations or from model results. Water storage in floodplains will be assessed using the approach developed by the Center for Ocean and Hydrosphere Topographic Studies (CTOH). Hydrological station measurements performed by national hydrological service agencies and private companies will be used to validate altimetric-based water levels from altimetric radar satellite missions (56-63). Thanks to scheduled satellite missions like Sentinel-6 / Jason-CS and Topography of Surface Water and Oceans (SWOT), new opportunities will improve resolution in both countries. 

A daily rainfall database from various sources (airports, national hydrological services, private companies, etc.) will be provided. The satellite precipitation estimates from CHIRPS (1981 to present) and GPM-IMERG version 6 (2000 to present) will be used.

T2.3. Determining the carbon balance: long-term land use/cover changes and carbon sequestration by plant biomass

Multi-resolution satellite monitoring with UAV-borne and ground plots calibration/validation will be used to map and assess vegetation biomass in the main vegetation types. Field plots data are available for the lower Ogooué (64) and in Lopé National Park (some monitored over 20 years). Allometric relationships between below- and above-ground tree parts have been fitted from an exceptional destructive set. Methods designed and applied over the central Cameroon forest-savannah interface (65) will be used to scale-up biomass at landscape and regional scales. Ground-based dendrometric data covering boreal forest types will be complemented by UAV-based data to locally calibrate/validate space-borne estimates.

Historical series of high-resolution satellite images (Landsat from 1975 onwards) will be processed via the Google Earth Engine to identify drivers of vegetation dynamics. Our ongoing tracing back of forest encroachment over savannahs will be extended to the ORB. In Siberia, retrospective monitoring will document changes between tundra, forests (coniferous and broad-leaved) and subtler types therein. Movements and configurations (abrupt vs. diffuse) of the forest-tundra ecotone will be of particular concern (29). Our group has established a framework for modelling fire-mediated dynamics of forest-savannah interface (66, 67) featuring spatially explicit and/or impulsive fires variants, with measurements of parameters in Cameroon. In Siberia, the modelling of land cover changes under global warming and fires will take a leaf from (68) which is suited for contexts with limited accuracy in parameters, yet strong qualitative understanding of processes.

T2.4. Assessing the climate projections and modeling geological processes/water flow

Statistical-dynamical downscaling of regional climate model (RCM) output (multi-model ensemble approach) from CORDEX Africa will be established using the successor product of TRMM, GPM IMERG and ground observations for bias correction (69), but also model future examples of the most extreme rainfall events at convection permitting resolution (pseudo-global warming approach). The same will be done for the WSL. A. Fink (KIT) and IFPEN will supervise T2.4. The climate information will be used as input data for process-based geological models coupling surface and groundwater flows

WP3. Neglected natural and cultural heritages in soils and present-day ecological heritage of past human activities on functioning of the soil

In connection with WP2, the field investigations will encompass soil pits and catena, sediment cores extracted from nearby marshes and lakes, mapping by drone-borne Lidar and archaeological excavations in vestiges of ancient agriculture (e.g., raised fields in ORB; plaggen in WSL) and associated sites of human settlements. Using a diversity of geoarchaeological and archaeobotanical techniques, we will infer how, when and for how long soils were used and transformed, examine the effects of ancient landscape use on pedogenetic processes, and explore the impacts of present and future global change on carbon dynamics in podzols and anthrosols. WP3 investigations will be carried out in the WSL (TSU research station of Kaibasovo, and in Gabon (ANPN research stations -Batéké Plateau, Lopé National Park- and in Ramsar zone of the Lower Ogooué)

T3.1. Characterizing the tropical and boreal podzols

Taking into account vegetation, climate, soil parent material, and interactions with soil biota, we will explore the relationships between ecosystemic variables and carbon dynamics in these soils. We will characterize and map these podzols. In interaction with WP2, we will characterize vegetation on littoral podzols (ORB) to determine the strength of association of this soil type with forests dominated by ectomycorrhizal trees (principally comprised of several caesalpinioid legume genera).

T3.2. Characterizing the tropical and boreal anthrosols

We will document where, how, when and for what periods humans used and created the anthrosols in the WSL and the ORB, and how they changed, temporarily or durably, soil properties. These investigations will help us to determine how taking into account anthropogenic effects on pedogenetic processes can improve modelling of current carbon stocks and dynamics.

WP4. Biogeochemical cycling of carbon and other nutrients in and out of the Critical Zone and emissions of greenhouse gases

By a hydrological continuum (HC) approach (72, 73) and new innovative monitoring devices (74), WP4, in connection with WP2-3, aims to identify the drivers and to quantify the migration of organic and inorganic, particulate and soluble carbon, including black carbon, and GHG emissions in the Arctic and equatorial regions (10, 11, 75). That will also take into account microbiological and hydrobiological factors, the nature of dissolved organic matter via ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) in order to forecast the development of hydrochemical parameters of rivers and lakes in the event of climate and anthropological changes. At the regional scale, numerical process-based models, allowing both the simulation of soil and organic matter evolution and the water flow dynamic, will be used to assess the impact of climate on inorganic and organic matter export to marine and lacustrine environments. Results will be used to provide environmental risk analysis at the watershed scale or at more local scales such as the paralic environment.

T3.1. Characterize tropical and boreal podzols

Taking into account vegetation, climate, soil source material and interactions with soil biota, we will explore the relationships between ecosystem variables and carbon dynamics in these soils. We will characterize and map these podzols. In interaction with WP2, we will characterize the vegetation on littoral podzols (ORB) to determine the strength of association of this type of soil with forests dominated by ectomycorrhizal trees (mainly made up of several genera of cesalpinioid legumes).

T3.2. Characterization of tropical and boreal anthrosols

We will document where, how, when, and for what periods humans used and created anthrosols in WSL and ORB, and how they changed soil properties, temporarily or permanently. This research will help us determine how accounting for anthropogenic effects on soil genetic processes can improve the modeling of current carbon stocks and dynamics.

WP4. Biogeochemical cycling of carbon and other nutrients in and out of the critical zone and greenhouse gas emissions

Through a hydrological continuum (HC) approach and new innovative monitoring devices, WP4, in conjunction with WP2-3, aims to identify the drivers and quantify the migration of organic and inorganic, particulate and soluble carbon, including black carbon, and GHG emissions in the Arctic and equatorial regions (10, 11, 75). This will also take into account the microbiological and hydrobiological factors, the nature of the dissolved organic matter via ultra high resolution mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) in order to predict the evolution of the hydrochemical parameters of rivers and lakes in the event of climatic and anthropological changes. At the regional level, numerical models based on processes, allowing both the simulation of the evolution of soil and organic matter and the dynamics of water flows, will be used to assess the impact of climate on the export of inorganic and organic matter to marine and lake environments . The results will be used to provide an analysis of environmental risks at the watershed scale or at more local scales such as the paralic environment.

T4.1. Characterize the hydrological continuum and GHG emissions in the ORB

At the local level, the sites shared with WP3 will be studied. At the regional level, bi-weekly samples will be taken on the main channel of the Ogooué and its tributaries (synoptic and virtual hydrological stations), supported by two Gabonese doctoral students, funded by another project.

T4.2. Characterize the hydrological continuum and GHG emissions in the WSL

The latitudinal mega-transect from the northern taiga with sporadic permafrost to the arctic tundra with continuous permafrost will be studied using TSU research stations. More specifically, we will study the interaction between the components of the permafrost peatland landscape (soils, rivers, lakes, soil and aquatic biota). We will sample surface water and shallow groundwater for carbon (quantity and quality of dissolved organic matter via FT-ICR MS), nutrients and metals and we will quantify the drivers of GHG emissions from plan surfaces. water using extensive daily and seasonal monitoring. strategy using floating chambers.

WP5. Understand the synergies between scientific and local knowledge of landscape change

WP5 involves the coordinated work of academic and non-academic actors. The objectives of WP5 are (1) to assess the knowledge and perception of local populations on the use and management of the landscape, as well as their responses to environmental changes (37), (2) to analyze the synergies between local knowledge and expert knowledge (build on the results of WP2, 3 and 4) using a transdisciplinary approach (76-79), and (3) to produce a safe virtual environment to ‘test’ and project real knowledge in a future vision and potential actions to achieve a desirable future.

T5.1. Assess local knowledge and perceptions of environmental change and adaptation to future environments

Based on data collected with representative samples of the local population in the two areas studied and in continuity with the results of WP4, T5.1 and ERC “Local indicators of the impacts of climate change: the contribution of local knowledge to research on climate change ”(2028-2023) will provide current insights into local knowledge and perceptions of landscape use and management as well as environmental change. This information will be used as input data for decision support tools.

T5.1.1. Assessment of landscape management and use of local resources

The assessment of landscape management and local resource use will be conducted through semi-structured individual and group interviews to be applied to a representative sample of local communities. The information to be collected includes people’s knowledge of the resources and techniques traditionally used to manage the landscape (eg water, soils). The results of this task will inform about the importance of local management practices in shaping past and current landscape elements.

T5.1.2. Assess local perceptions of environmental change

The assessment of local perceptions of environmental change will be conducted using standardized protocols developed and implemented by several indigenous peoples and local communities around the world (80). These protocols are based on group and individual interviews on the perception of local populations of environmental change, the impacts of this change on the physical, biological and climatic domains, and the local responses to these changes. The results of this task will provide information on actual environmental changes and complement the landscape change assessment developed in WP2. The information will also feed into a global database documenting local perceptions of the environment and its factors (

T5.2: integration of scientific and traditional knowledge data and design of the role play

WP2, 3 and 4 will provide information on the evolution of GHG emissions, water and carbon sequestration cycles and past history in the two regions. We will try to integrate them into the first version of the role-playing game (RPG). The aim of the RPG is to explore a user-friendly representation of this scientific data and (2) to use this representation to explore the “future” (the “future” as a proxy tool to induce action by generating adaptation. change). Knowledge of local uses and perceived environmental changes (T5.1) will be crossed with knowledge of other WPs, in particular with climate models and land use changes (WP2, 3 and 4). This will allow us to identify overlaps and differences between scientific assessments and local knowledge and perceptions. Such a comparison will provide relevant information on local perception for better implementation of communication strategies and policies. All of this information will be used to design the final version of the RPG.

T5.3: Organization of workshops with stakeholders

T5.3.1. First workshop: assessment of the situation and the main trends

This task aims to build the common ground for the transdisciplinarity of the project, by devising a first vision of socio-environmental issues. It will involve all the stakeholders of the project, and will focus on the assessment of the current state of the socio-ecosystem, and the main trends, as the different stakeholders perceive them. This task will be carried out in cooperation with all WPs.

T5.3.2. Second workshop: exploring complexity

The second workshop will explore the environmental change datasets generated in the different WPs. The exact design of this will depend on the nature of the integrated data (interactive simulation, maps with historical sites, films presenting the results of the simulation, and proto-RPG is possible). It will link scientific data to local knowledge.

T5.3.3. Third workshop: assessment of scenarios and policies

This workshop will help participants predict the potential long-term impacts of policies, trends and scenarios. Using information from current and future predictions of change, we will build different plausible scenarios (30 and 50 years old) by organizing participatory workshops to understand how people will try to cope / adapt to each of the different scenarios.

WP6. Communication / awareness, dissemination and exploitation

This WP is dedicated to communication, dissemination to specialized stakeholders and the general public, to raise awareness of soils, water, climate change, the carbon cycle and the sustainability of the critical area and water of rivers and lakes, and threats related to their degradation. It will also support the exploitation of the project’s products and their appropriation by decision-makers and natural resource managers, so as to induce changes in terms of perception, decision-making and management practices.
“Impact, engagement and dissemination plan”).

T6.1. Preparation of the project’s communication, dissemination and exploitation strategy / plan

A communication / dissemination strategy and a project identity will be built collectively during the first three months of the project to harmonize and optimize our efforts and impacts.

T6.2. Design and animation of digital communication / broadcasting media

We will present the project, its partners, its products / results and its news on a website (with an Intranet accessible to authorized partners, to share documents / internal news). In addition, we plan to produce a full set of high quality digital images, visualized maps and results, outputs for blogs, web, social media and institutions. All documents will be available in open access.

T6.3. Writing of communication / dissemination material for different audiences

We will produce a brochure and roll-up of the project in year 1, and a capitalization booklet towards the end of the project (to summarize our main findings). We will edit fact sheets, slide shows, newsletters (every 6 months) and write briefing notes and collective scientific articles. Press notes will be released as events unfold. We will participate in international conferences on sustainability sciences.

T6.4. Exploitation of results: transfer of inventions to public / private entities capable of operationalizing their use

Through the activities of WP2, 3 and 4, as part of our overall R&I framework, we will produce thematic maps and models and from WP5 a role-playing game (RPG), all accessible to stakeholders and a wide public by the end of the project. These products will be designed by serious communication and gaming experts, working with stakeholders, to ensure they are used as widely as possible. Users will be trained in the use of the different tools and will be made aware of the potential and benefits of their application.

Private companies and soil / water managers will use the data, maps, models generated during the project to improve / optimize their exploitation and / or conservation activities of natural resources, and better assess and anticipate their impacts.

NGOs and educational entities will use the RPG to raise awareness and support consultation / concertation activities involving stakeholders with diverse and sometimes divergent interests.

T6.5. Develop synergies with other stakeholders, networks and projects at national, regional and global scales

An important element of the project is the exchange of this knowledge with the larger scientific community and society. All partners will be sensitized and trained in the aspects and requirements of communication, as they will all be invited to contribute to these activities in order to multiply actions and strengthen their reach and impact with all stakeholders.