RIBES research theme IV: Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions

Based on the latest IPCC reports and the Paris agreement, emissions of carbon dioxide, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide need to be drastically reduced to limit global warming to less than 1.5°C. RIBES has a long history of interdisciplinary and collaborative research on the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It continues to be our ambition to investigate, understand and ultimately mitigate and counteract climate change in aquatic and wetland ecosystems. This is being accomplished in several complementary lines of research in which we are monitoring and assessing GHG emissions in freshwater systems in order to understand the role of different drivers (bioturbation, microbial basis, vegetation) of GHG cycling. Furthermore, we aim to investigate the full potential, including potential environmental trade-offs, of novel deep GHG emission-reduction technologies in industries.

Natural (wetland) systems

Several groups at RIBES have been and will continue to jointly study the release of GHGs from various freshwater wetland ecosystems. These groups have unique access to relevant ecosystems, portable equipment to measure GHG release in the field, and dedicated laboratories for incubating and studying field-collected samples with advanced stable isotope mass spectrometry. In all of these affected ecosystems, understanding the metabolism of novel methane cycle microorganisms is important for designing proper mitigation strategies and may aid the design of more sustainable wastewater treatment plants. 

New technologies

In addition to understanding the mechanisms of GHG emissions from natural systems and the influence of human pressures, it is paramount to quantify the global-scale environmental trade-offs of societal developments to counteract climate change, such as moving towards a bio-based, circular economy. New technologies can be in different stages of technology development, which is relevant when comparing these technologies with competing mature technologies, and consequently we will develop and apply methods for prospective environmental footprint assessments. This method accounts for the influence of expected technological developments on the environmental footprint of technologies. For renewable energy technologies, we will also develop and implement methods to account for the influence of variability in technological characteristics and climatic circumstances at the level of individual facilities. Furthermore, in order to help industry design and implement system transitions, we will evaluate policy instruments for deep emission reductions, including innovative ways of carbon pricing, infrastructure investments, and specific cluster-oriented policies. 

Photo of a ditch in an autumn landscape with trees and grass

Researchers map aquatic-based, human-driven impacts on climate change

A study published in the journal Science illustrates how human impacts to aquatic ecosystems are contributing to the global climate crisis. One of the study's takeaways is that humans are impacting decomposition rates in rivers on a global scale.

Schematische weergave van elkaar versterkende factoren in klimaatverandering

30 million for research into acceleration of climate change

EMBRACER, a worldwide unique centre with prominent climate experts, will investigate the connection between modern climate change and the long-term influence of feedback mechanisms in a research project funded by NWO.

Icon of a cloud with the letters GHG inside and two arrows going up and down below it

About

In 2024, the coordinators of theme IV are Steef Hanssen, José Paranaíba, and Cornelia Welte. You can contact them if you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions about the topics in theme IV. 

The coordinators are responsible for (internal) events and communication about theme IV, such as through the internal Teams channel. 

Contact

Contact one of the theme coordinators (Steef Hanssen, José Paranaíba, and Cornelia Welte) or the RIBES office for more information about this theme.