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Variations of Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds

generated by climate change

The Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) is a Spanish public research institute, specialized in earth ecology, and more specifically forest ecology. The Air Liquide Foundation supports its study about the effects of climate evolution on Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOC) emissions.

Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOC)

The impact of ecosystem’s biological processes on earth atmosphere and climate are acknowledged today. Carbon capture and release performed by plants have specifically drawn researchers’ attention. However, other gases than CO₂ are exchanged between the biosphere and the atmosphere. Plants especially release Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOC). Their emission rate depends on:

  • Climate
  • Use of lands and
  • all other biological and physicochemical factors of ecosystems

Examples of BVOC: hydrocarbons, like hemiterpene isoprene

© Prof. Josep Peñuelas
© Gwenvidig

Understanding the evolution of BVOC emissions

Climate change increases these emissions because it modifies plants’ communication and defense processes as well as their metabolism. To understand BVOC emissions’ global evolution, the CREAF studies “biotic” and “abiotic” changes, which are all the biological and physicochemical factors of an ecosystem that influence living organisms.

The objective is to evaluate the impact of these various factors and the adaptation of plants to environmental constraints

Thus researchers study the consequences of global warming, drought or eutrophication on BVOC thanks to advanced technologies. Part of the study is conducted in growth greenhouses with artificial CO₂ concentrations. A few Spanish regions with different climate and vegetation are studied.

Benefits of this research

This project will benefit the whole scientific community as well as modelers, especially models predicting climate change. Project results will have broader positive impacts. Indeed, BVOC are involved in biological processes that contribute to the stability of our environment, such as pollination.

The €50,000 endowment from the Air Liquide Foundation is dedicated to acquire equipments to measure BVOC emission rates, and purchase consumables needed to conduct experiments.


  • Project initiator: Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF)
  • Location: Barcelona, Spain
  • Year of support: 2013
  • R&D Manager: Amélie Carron, Centre de Recherche Paris-Saclay