Preface: Impacts of extreme climate events and disturbances on carbon dynamics
Abstract. The impacts of extreme climate events and disturbances (ECE&D) on the carbon cycle have received growing attention in recent years. This special issue showcases a collection of recent advances in understanding the impacts of ECE&D on carbon cycling. Notable advances include quantifying how harvesting activities impact forest structure, carbon pool dynamics, and recovery processes; observed drastic increases of the concentrations of dissolved organic carbon and dissolved methane in thermokarst lakes in western Siberia during a summer warming event; disentangling the roles of herbivores and fire on forest carbon dioxide flux; direct and indirect impacts of fire on the global carbon balance; and improved atmospheric inversion of regional carbon sources and sinks by incorporating disturbances. Combined, studies herein indicate several major research needs. First, disturbances and extreme events can interact with one another, and it is important to understand their overall impacts and also disentangle their effects on the carbon cycle. Second, current ecosystem models are not skillful enough to correctly simulate the underlying processes and impacts of ECE&D (e.g., tree mortality and carbon consequences). Third, benchmark data characterizing the timing, location, type, and magnitude of disturbances must be systematically created to improve our ability to quantify carbon dynamics over large areas. Finally, improving the representation of ECE&D in regional climate/earth system models and accounting for the resulting feedbacks to climate are essential for understanding the interactions between climate and ecosystem dynamics.