The challenges confronting global change researchers and decision-makers are growing in complexity and urgency. Our planet faces ever-increasing pressures on our natural resources, changing the environment in which we live. As such, ecosystems and their services are threatened by climate change, land-use change, pollution and loss of biodiversity. If these ecosystem dynamics are not understood, Europe (and other continents) will not be able to assess the current and potential future impacts, mitigate risk, or adapt to these environmental changes. Ultimately, societal well-being is at risk. It is therefore necessary to understand and predict how European ecosystems will respond to the current and future environmental changes, and to develop new management, mitigation and adaptation approaches. This requires research across disciplinary boundaries, implementation of state-of-the-art research infrastructures (RIs), and sound integration of theory, experiments, observations and modelling approaches.
To this end, building an integrated experimental RI such as AnaEE is a necessity if we are to collectively tackle and forecast the impacts of climate change, land use changes and loss of biodiversity among ecosystems and across continents. The key to anticipating and predicting long-term ecosystem changes lies not only in better understanding the complexity of the processes, but also in ensuring that new knowledge helps us better plan for a changing future. Developing this knowledge and the facilities to foster it has tremendous potential to enrich science, elucidate and tackle unknown problems, improve economic models, and provide decision-support tools (pathways towards mitigation and adaptation) in the event of critical loss of ecosystem functions and services.
This international conference aimed to address, based on large scale experimental RI in ecosystem science, the following emerging topics:
- Current and future global change experiments, challenges and opportunities
- Understanding of risk, risk mitigation and management of global ecosystem changes
- Ecological forecasting and research needs for food security and climate change: uncertainties in models and coupled approaches
- Data challenge in ecosystem science – moving forward
- Science-economy interface
The conference brought together speakers from some of the most important players in the world of research and policy, as well as key AnaEE consortium members, to further deepen understanding among key stakeholders of how to build and grow research infrastructures with a focus on AnaEE, while also allowing ample time for long and deep discourse on key issues.