Articles | Volume 10, issue 10
Research article
08 Oct 2013
Research article |  | 08 Oct 2013

Carbon density and anthropogenic land-use influences on net land-use change emissions

S. J. Smith and A. Rothwell

Abstract. We examine historical and future land-use emissions using a simple mechanistic carbon-cycle model with regional and ecosystem specific parameterizations. We use the latest gridded data for historical and future land-use changes, which includes estimates for the impact of forest harvesting and secondary forest regrowth. Our central estimate of net terrestrial land-use change emissions, exclusive of climate–carbon feedbacks, is 250 GtC over the last 300 yr. This estimate is most sensitive to assumptions for preindustrial forest and soil carbon densities. We also find that land-use change emissions estimates are sensitive to the treatment of crop and pasture lands. These sensitivities also translate into differences in future terrestrial uptake in the RCP (representative concentration pathway) 4.5 land-use scenario. The estimate of future uptake obtained here is smaller than the native values from the GCAM (Global Change Assessment Model) integrated assessment model result due to lower net reforestation in the RCP4.5 gridded land-use data product.

Final-revised paper