Effects of phosphorus limitations on Life, Society and the Earth System
P is an earthbound and finite element and the prospect of constrained access to mineable P resources has already triggered geopolitical disputes. In contrast to P, availabilities of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) to ecosystems are rapidly increasing in most areas of the globe.
The resulting imminent change in the stoichiometry of available elements will have no equivalent in the Earth’s history and will bear profound, yet, unknown consequences for life, the Earth System and human society. The ongoing shifts in C:N:P balances in ecosystems will necessarily affect the structure, function and diversity of the Earth system.
P-market crises might put pressure on the global food system and create environmental ripple effects ranging from expansion of agricultural land to P-price-induced changes in land management exacerbating the stoichiometric resource imbalance. Yet, the impacts of this unprecedented human disturbance of elemental stoichiometry remain a research enigma.
IMBALANCE-P will provide improved understanding and quantitative foresight to formulate a range of policy options that will contain the risks and mitigate the consequences of stoichiometric imbalances in the Earth System. It will integrate some of Europe's leading integrated assessment and Earth system models, calibrated using ecosystem nutrient limitation data obtained from field experiments. The project will establish an international process of science-based P-diplomacy.