Recent divergence in the contributions of tropical and boreal forests to the terrestrial carbon sink.

Affiliation

Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, Lund, Sweden. [Email]

Abstract

Anthropogenic land use and land cover changes (LULCC) have a large impact on the global terrestrial carbon sink, but this effect is not well characterized according to biogeographical region. Here, using state-of-the-art Earth observation data and a dynamic global vegetation model, we estimate the impact of LULCC on the contribution of biomes to the terrestrial carbon sink between 1992 and 2015. Tropical and boreal forests contributed equally, and with the largest share of the mean global terrestrial carbon sink. CO2 fertilization was found to be the main driver increasing the terrestrial carbon sink from 1992 to 2015, but the net effect of all drivers (CO2 fertilization and nitrogen deposition, LULCC and meteorological forcing) caused a reduction and an increase, respectively, in the terrestrial carbon sink for tropical and boreal forests. These diverging trends were not observed when applying a conventional LULCC dataset, but were also evident in satellite passive microwave estimates of aboveground biomass. These datasets thereby converge on the conclusion that LULCC have had a greater impact on tropical forests than previously estimated, causing an increase and decrease of the contributions of boreal and tropical forests, respectively, to the growing terrestrial carbon sink.

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