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The fate and future of carbon in forests


The fate and future of carbon in forests (CatchCaN) is applied research in that will undertake original investigations to acquire new knowledge with respect to carbon sequestration in the forests of Czechia in the face of future changes in climate, air pollution and forest species.
CatchCaN is international cooperation between applied research institutes in Czechia, Norway and Sweden.

Lead solver and contact person:
Prof. RNDr. Jakub Hruška CSc.

The "Fate and future of carbon in forests" benefits from a € 1 500 000 grant from Norway Grants and the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic within the KAPPA Programme.


Map of the present-day carbon pool in forest soils of the Czech Republic

Map at a scale 1 : 100 000 displaying the present-day (2015) carbon pool in forest soils (tonnes per hectare) down to 50 cm depth. The map is based on the relationship between existing soil carbon pool data and environmental variables.

Map of the present-day carbon pool in forest soils of the Czech Republic

Download (pdf).

2022 Summary

All activities continue as planned, delays caused by restrictions due to COVID-19 have been caught up. Samples collected in Norway in May 2022 have been analysed and resulted in new estimates on soil carbon pools at Birkenes and Langtjern.

New knowledge resulted in Magic reprogrammed in the Mobius framework which are associated with several functions that make Magic easier to use (running, calibration, evaluating output) for non-NIVA users. This has been tested by CGS. Site-specific data have been used in the model calibration and parameterization for Langtjern and this will continue in 2023. Hydrological models and forest growth models are being applied.
Furthermore, several soil C modules have been implemented in Mobius and have been compared. These models can be run to simulate catchment carbon accumulation and effects of climate and catchment disturbances on carbon pools and water quality.

The collation of the available historical and recent data on water composition of the Šumava lakes (Plešné, Čertovo, Černé, Prášilské, and Laka) was finished and new data from 2021–2022 were checked for quality. Measurement of microclimatic and hydrological data in catchments of Plešné and Čertovo lakes continued together with other activities. Long term trends in soil composition in the Plešné and Čertovo catchments and their changes after tree dieback were evaluated and published (Kopáček et al. 2023. Long-term changes in soil composition in unmanaged central European mountain spruce forests after decreased acidic deposition and a bark beetle outbreak. Catena 222: 106839. DOI). All available data on the Plešné catchment-lake system were prepared for use in MOBIUS.

Publication of our results now available online.

Long term trends in soil composition in the Plešné and Čertovo catchments and their changes after tree dieback were evaluated and published in Catena.
Kopáček et al. 2023. Long-term changes in soil composition in unmanaged central European mountain spruce forests after decreased acidic deposition and a bark beetle outbreak. Catena 222: 106839. DOI.

Soil sampling in Norway

Soil sampling in Norway was very challenging. Some rain, lot of walks with heavy stuff for sampling. But beautiful Norwegian nature.

Why we did it? For comparison with central Europe and for modelling of the future soil carbon pools under different climatic scenarions. Will we have more or less soil carbon soon? And are we able to answer such complicated questions? We will do our best:-).

Soil sampling in Norway - pictures

2021 Summary

Most of the work scheduled for the first year of the project was completed despite complicated situation due to Covid 19.
Data from 14 GEOMON catchments (CGS, CZ), Norwegian catchments (NIVA), Šumava lakes (BC-HI, CZ) and Gardsjon experimental NITREX catchment (IVL, Sweden) were collated into the databases of measured precipitation chemistry, stream and lake water chemistry and runoff (hydrology). MOBIUS modelling platform was developed (hydrological model and forest growth models were added to central biogeochemical model MAGIC) and new processes including N and P cycling were also implemented. MOBIUS was partly tested and validated on Plešné lake dataset.

About project

Project introduction

The forests of Czechia are changing. Coniferous forests are under attack by bark beetles, having been weakened by extended droughts, perhaps a consequence of climate change. Forests are still recovering from the effects of air pollution of the 1970s and 1980s. A switch to hardwood species may ensue. Climate change may increase the frequency and severity of droughts, floods, fires, and windthrows. These changes affect the ability of forests to capture and store atmospheric carbon (C) and target of carbon neutrality by the year 2050.

Streams, reservoirs and drinking water supplies may be affected. Protection of national parks and other natural habitats may be difficult. CatchCaN has this background. Rigorous forecasts of the future of carbon in forests in Czechia necessitates a concerted effort to bring together recent knowledge and data on forest ekosystém processes and put these into a coherent framework. We propose to use the MOBIUS modelling platform, modify biogeochemical models, and calibrate and test these models using high-intensive datasets from forest sites in CZ, NO and SE.

The models will be used to simulate future changes in forests, soils and waters under various alternative scenarios of climate change, forest cover, and air pollution. The modelling results will be applied and scaled-up to CZ. Products will include maps and documentation on forest sensitivity, C pools and changes, and stewardship of national parks and other habitats.

Objectives of project

1. Develop modelling software for carbon and nutrients in forest ecosystems

2. Apply the model tools to long-term monitored forest catchments in Czech Republic, Norway and Sweden

3. Apply tools for addressing future carbon in forested catchments – forests, soils, water

4. Produce predictive maps of sensitivity of forests soil carbon pools in the Czech Republic (year 2050) under different scenarios of the climate change (moderate and severe scenarios) and tree species composition


Project promoter

Czech Geological Survey

Apply MOBIUS-based models to GEOMON catchments (forest, soils, water). Supplement as necessary with additional measurements. Produce maps of CZ carbon pools under different climatic scenario and forest cover for the year 2050 (year of the proposed EU carbon neutrality).

Project partners

Norwegian Institute for Water Research

Develop software within the MOBIUS framework for modelling C in forested catchments. Apply and test these models at two Norwegian forested sites (Langtjern and Birkenes). Supplement as necessary with additional measurements. Place the software in open access with full documentation and interactive examples.

Biology Centre CAS, v. v. i.

Together with CGS apply MOBIUS-based models to Sumava sites (forest, soils, water). Supplement as necessary with additional measurements.

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute Ltd

Apply MOBIUS-based models to the Gårdsjön NITREX forest catchment (forest, soils, water). Supplement as necessary with additional measurements.

Project progress, results

The GEOMON forest catchment network

The CZ belongs to a region heavily affected by acid deposition. Regional decreases in SO2 emissions are among the most pronounced examples of pollution reduction in Europe. In order to monitor the effects of pollution reduction on forests and freshwater ecosystems, 14 small catchments water across the CZ have been monitored monthly since 1994. These sites (called the GEOMON network) represent a lithological, climatic and acidic deposition gradient typical for Central Europe. Data collected from the GEOMON network have provided evidence for:

(i) reversal of soil and stream acidification,
(ii) declines in stream nutrient levels (N and base cations),
(iii) increases in stream dissolved organic carbon (DOC),
(iv) the importance of forest management for soil acidification,
(v) climate change effects on runoff patterns,
(vi) effects of historical land use practices on soil chemistry and
(vii) declining soil organic matter decomposition in acidified regions.

At present widespread bark beetle (Ips typhographus and related species) infestation following extensive drought is killing mature Norway spruce stands in several of the GEOMON catchments. Existing long-term knowledge of the forest, soil and waters in these catchments (prior to, during and after tree dieback) provide a robust basis for the development and testing of models in the MOBIUS platform to assess future carbon pools and their trajectories under various climate and air pollution scenarios as well as the expected shift from conifers to broadleaf stands.

Source: Oulehle, F., T. Chuman, J. Hruska, P. Kram, W. H. McDowell, O. Myska, T. Navratil, and M. Tesar. 2017. Recovery from acidification alters concentrations and fluxes of solutes from Czech catchments. Biogeochemistry 132:251-272.

GEOMON - mapa

The MOBIUS model building system

MOBIUS is a new open-source model building system that makes model building fast, (typically days/weeks instead of months) and allows for quick iteration times for testing hypotheses (circular model development process).

MOBIUS allows flexible and fast model building by researchers with a relatively basic level of programming. MOBIUS models meet modern demands for computational speed and allow for the complexity of process representation to be varied depending on progressing system knowledge, research question or scale. MOBIUS allows predefined components to be connected in user-specified ways to create a model. MOBIUS allows the user to define any component/process. It is one of the first frameworks to be fully generalizable – although initially developed to support catchment-scale hydrology and water quality modelling; it can be used to represent any system of hierarchically structured ordinary differential equations (ODEs), such as population dynamics or toxicological models. A range of popular hydrology and water quality models have already been implemented in MOBIUS, and these are available to use either as stand-alone models or as starting points for further development and customisation.

MOBIUS is aimed at model users and model developers. The model code is easy to read. It has a user-friendly graphical interface and file formats. Modules can be linked together to produce different models. The structure is very flexible. For example, it is easy to reuse the same hydrology model for many water quality models or combine different water quality models into one larger model. Scripting support can be used to run climate scenarios, with autocalibration and parametric uncertainty analysis (through python bindings).


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Czech Geological Survey
Geologická 577/6
152 00 Praha 5
phone: +420251085332
Czech Geological Survey
Geologická 577/6
152 00 Praha 5
phone: +420251085433