Swedish research group Qwarts receives grant of 24M Swedish kronor over five-year period to improve weathering models to sustain country's current levels of forest harvest

UPPSALA, Sweden , December 9, 2011 (press release) – The research group Qwarts (Quantifying Weathering Rates for Sustainable Forestry) has been named one of the Swedish research council FORMAS “strong research environments”. The group has been awarded a grant of 24 million SEK over a period of five years to improve the current weathering models.

No industrial country has greater hopes than Sweden for forestry's role in its energy future. But official national calculations indicate that the supply of weathering products (e.g. Ca, Mg) is not sufficient to sustain current levels of forest harvest in large areas of the country. This deficit in weathering is of great concern for the supply of both nutrients to the trees and alkalinity to aquatic ecosystems. Compensation for what weathering does not provide might be possible by spreading ash on the soil, but there are major question marks about the feasibility of this.

"After hearing so much concern about whether forestry is sustainable from an acidification standpoint, it is tremendous that this research team will get the chance to provide the best answer that science can provide", says professor and project leader Kevin Bishop.

Scientists from Lund University, the Royal Institute of Technology, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Uppsala University will be leading components of this interdisciplinary research program.

The processes most in need of improvement in weathering models include quantification of biological influences, aluminium chemistry, and the role of climate. The development of weathering models will occur through the confrontation of models with data from the scales of laboratory, plot and catchment studies to improve the representation of key processes, and then apply the improved models to management scale estimates of the weathering needed to sustain forestry.

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