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In the Spotlight: Pau Brunet Navarro

Aug 5, 2014

Pau is working at the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF).

The topic of your research project is “Mitigation options through innovative wood product use”. You’ve been working on it for some months now – how is your work progressing? What do you plan to do over the next 6 months?

The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernamental Panel on Climate Change (2013) acknowledged the climate change effect of atmospheric carbon and the importance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among others, by using wood products. The amount of carbon stored in wood products has been estimated using models in peer-reviewed journals for more than 30 years. In the first phase of my project, I conducted a literature review to know the state-of-the-art on wood product modelling, to identify the missing knowledge, and how could I contribute to reduce this gap. In the second phase, I developed a wood product model. I implemented my model as a module into BIOME-BGC (version ZALF), a biogeochemical forest growth model. The added value of our model in the work already done in this field is the capacity to predict forest productivity under changing climatic scenarios.

During the model development process, I asked myself which parameters affect carbon storage capacity of wood products. I created the simplest model I could imagine to play with these parameters and analyse its carbon storage influence in long and short term. Unexpectedly, this game is taking the shape of a perspective paper.

Now it is time to write. Over the next months, I plan to finish a literature paper describing the state-of-the-art. I will write another paper describing the model I developed and demostrate its accurate running.  I will also complete the perspective paper analysing the parameters affecting carbon storage capacity of wood products.

In the mean time, I will conduct a questionnaire to wood-base industries in the region of Brandenburg. I will use the results of this questionnaire to define industrial process parameters required for my model. From the results of this study case and others done at different regional scales, I will be able to compare industry efficiency at different regional levels, provide suggestions for improvements to local industries and identify mitigation options through innovative wood product use.

Why did this exact topic interest you?

In my opinion, forest-based sector has a big role regarding to climate change mitigation with many questions to be solved.

Since the beginning of my career I have been interested on climate change related issues. My work experiences range from more biological studies, the use of anurs as climate change bioindicators in Algeria, to more forestry research, when I applied CAPSIS model to asses carbon balance in a forest management unit in France. This time, CASTLE project gave me the opportunity to analyse the last part of the chain, the use of harvested wood products in Germany.

In addition, this topic allows me to enhance my modelling skills. Thanks to computer improvements, models are becoming a powerful tool for researchers with a big potential. Therefore, the experience gained during these years will be a valuable asset for future projects.

What would you like to do after the CASTLE project has finished?

I am not sure about what I want to do next. I enjoy doing research, so a postdoc is an option. However, one of the reasons to join CASTLE was the combination between academic and industry problem-oriented research as an introduction to a more applied work. I am open to new challenges and interesting opportunities.

What are your thoughts on the CASTLE project so far, and the training courses in particular?

Personally, the CASTLE project has become an exciting platform to improve my professional skills. Thanks to CASTLE, all ESRs have the possibility to do a PhD in a high quality research environment with exceptional working conditions. The secondments are highly beneficial to achieve the excellence required in our work by learning from experienced and skilled senior researchers or companies abroad. Furthermore, we have the opportunity to organize a conference with the possibility to expose our results to the whole community.

The trainings are our meeting point, a unique experience in the forestry sector. There, we benefit of the multidisciplinary team we are: 14 PhDs coming from all the world with different backgrounds discussing about sustainability. Moreover, changing venues and local specialists giving lectures are pluses for our learning process.