The fate of carbon in a mature forest under carbon dioxide enrichment

Atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment can enhance plant carbon uptake and growth, thereby providing an important negative feedback to climate change by slowing the rate of increase of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Although evidence gathered from young aggrading forests has generally indicated a strong carbon dioxide fertilization effect on biomass growth, it is unclear whether mature forests respond to atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment in a similar way. In mature trees and forest stands photosynthetic uptake has been found to increase under atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment without any apparent accompanying growth response, leaving the fate of additional carbon fixed under atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment unclear. 

In this study, Mingkai Jiang and colleagues used data from the first ecosystem-scale Free-Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment (FACE) experiment in a mature forest. They constructed a comprehensive ecosystem carbon budget to track the fate of carbon as the forest responded to four years of atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment exposure. They show that, although the atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment treatment of +150 parts per million (+38 per cent) above ambient levels induced a 12 per cent (+247 grams of carbon per square metre per year) increase in carbon uptake through gross primary production, this additional carbon uptake did not lead to increased carbon sequestration at the ecosystem level. Instead, the majority of the extra carbon was emitted back into the atmosphere via several respiratory fluxes, with increased soil respiration alone accounting for half of the total uptake surplus. 

Their results call into question the predominant thinking that the capacity of forests to act as carbon sinks will be generally enhanced under atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment, and challenge the efficacy of climate mitigation strategies that rely on ubiquitous carbon dioxide fertilization as a driver of increased carbon sinks in global forests.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.




Trending Topics

planthro projects