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Determining the Carbon Cycle of the Energy Crop Miscanthus X giganteus: Implications for Reducing Ireland’s CO2 Emissions

Faye Carroll

Faye Carroll

Supervisors:  Prof. M.B. Jones and  Prof. J.I. Burke

Miscanthus x giganteus, carbon dioxide, eddy covariance

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Kyoto Protocol (1997) has driven research towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the development of alternative energy sources. Decreases in CO2 production can be readily achieved through the conversion from fossil fuels to renewable bioenergy fuels and through the sequestration of atmospheric carbon into soils. The conversion of surplus agricultural land to bioenergy crops has been identified as providing the greatest potential for carbon mitigation across Europe. In Ireland, the energy crop Miscanthus x giganteus has received considerable interest, with promising yields and the possibility of substituting up to 37% of the countries’ current gross electricity generation from fossil fuels. The principal objective of my Ph.D. project is to quantify the carbon cycle of a thirteen year old Miscanthus x giganteus stand located in Teagasc’s Oak Park, Crop Research Centre, Co. Carlow. This is accomplished primarily through measuring the net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of carbon using an established meteorological technique termed eddy covariance (EC). In addition, the movement of carbon through gross primary production (GPP) and total ecosystem respiration (Reco) are also assessed. To construct the complete carbon cycle experiments to monitor biomass productivity (above and below ground), litter fall and decomposition, and understory vegetation development are conducted. Knowledge of carbon fluxes is critical for developing future energy policies and assessing the potential of growing energy crops as a means of contributing towards meeting national Kyoto commitments.


Kromdijk, J., Schepers, H. E., Albanito, F., Fitton, N., Carroll, F., Jones, M.B., Finnan, J., Lanigan, G.J. and Griffiths, H. 2008. Bundle sheath leakiness and light limitation during C4 leaf and canopy CO2 uptake. Plant Physiology 148(4): 2144-2155.

Plunkett,G., Carroll, F.,  Hartwell, B.,  Whitehouse, N.J. and Reimer, P.J. Vegetation history at the multi-period prehistoric complex at Ballynahatty, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Journal of Archaeological Science,35, (1), 181-190.

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Last updated 14 December 2009