Articles | Volume 13, issue 6
Research article
30 Mar 2016
Research article |  | 30 Mar 2016

Carbon sequestration in managed temperate coniferous forests under climate change

Caren C. Dymond, Sarah Beukema, Craig R. Nitschke, K. David Coates, and Robert M. Scheller

Abstract. Management of temperate forests has the potential to increase carbon sinks and mitigate climate change. However, those opportunities may be confounded by negative climate change impacts. We therefore need a better understanding of climate change alterations to temperate forest carbon dynamics before developing mitigation strategies. The purpose of this project was to investigate the interactions of species composition, fire, management, and climate change in the Copper–Pine Creek valley, a temperate coniferous forest with a wide range of growing conditions. To do so, we used the LANDIS-II modelling framework including the new Forest Carbon Succession extension to simulate forest ecosystems under four different productivity scenarios, with and without climate change effects, until 2050. Significantly, the new extension allowed us to calculate the net sector productivity, a carbon accounting metric that integrates aboveground and belowground carbon dynamics, disturbances, and the eventual fate of forest products. The model output was validated against literature values. The results implied that the species optimum growing conditions relative to current and future conditions strongly influenced future carbon dynamics. Warmer growing conditions led to increased carbon sinks and storage in the colder and wetter ecoregions but not necessarily in the others. Climate change impacts varied among species and site conditions, and this indicates that both of these components need to be taken into account when considering climate change mitigation activities and adaptive management. The introduction of a new carbon indicator, net sector productivity, promises to be useful in assessing management effectiveness and mitigation activities.

Short summary
Management of forests may be able to mitigate climate change. However, those efforts may be negated by climate change impacts. This project simulated four productivity scenarios for a temperate coniferous forest. The coldest ecoregions were projected to be carbon sinks, but the warmest are at risk of becoming carbon sources to the atmosphere. Effects varied among species and site conditions, indicating that both of these factors need to be considered when planning mitigation and adaptation.
Final-revised paper