Modeling and measuring the effects of disturbance history and climate on carbon and water budgets in evergreen needleleaf forests

P. E. Thornton, B. E. Law, Henry L. Gholz, Kenneth L. Clark, E. Falge, D. S. Ellsworth, A. H. Goldstein, R. K. Monson, D. Hollinger, M. Falk, J. Chen, J. P. Sparks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

593 Scopus citations

Abstract

The effects of disturbance history, climate, and changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration and nitrogen deposition (Ndep) on carbon and water fluxes in seven North American evergreen forests are assessed using a coupled water-carbon-nitrogen model, canopy-scale flux observations, and descriptions of the vegetation type, management practices, and disturbance histories at each site. The effects of interannual climate variability, disturbance history, and vegetation ecophysiology on carbon and water fluxes and storage are integrated by the ecosystem process model Biome-BGC, with results compared to site biometric analyses and eddy covariance observations aggregated by month and year. Model results suggest that variation between sites in net ecosystem carbon exchange (NEE) is largely a function of disturbance history, with important secondary effects from site climate, vegetation ecophysiology, and changing atmospheric CO2 and Ndep. The timing and magnitude of fluxes following disturbance depend on disturbance type and intensity, and on post-harvest management treatments such as burning, fertilization and replanting. The modeled effects of increasing atmospheric CO2 on NEE are generally limited by N availability, but are greatly increased following disturbance due to increased N mineralization and reduced plant N demand. Modeled rates of carbon sequestration over the past 200 years are driven by the rate of change in CO2 concentration for old sites experiencing low rates of Ndep. The model produced good estimates of between-site variation in leaf area index, with mixed performance for between- and within-site variation in evapotranspiration. There is a model bias toward smaller annual carbon sinks at five sites, with a seasonal model bias toward smaller warm-season sink strength at all sites. Various lines of reasoning are explored to help to explain these differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-222
Number of pages38
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Volume113
Issue number1-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2 2002
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Carbon budget
  • Carbon dioxide concentration
  • Ecosystem model
  • Ecosystem respiration
  • Eddy covariance
  • Evergreen needleleaf forest
  • Net ecosystem exchange
  • Nitrogen budget
  • Nitrogen deposition
  • Water budget

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Atmospheric Science

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    Thornton, P. E., Law, B. E., Gholz, H. L., Clark, K. L., Falge, E., Ellsworth, D. S., Goldstein, A. H., Monson, R. K., Hollinger, D., Falk, M., Chen, J., & Sparks, J. P. (2002). Modeling and measuring the effects of disturbance history and climate on carbon and water budgets in evergreen needleleaf forests. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 113(1-4), 185-222. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0168-1923(02)00108-9