Articles | Volume 4, issue 4
06 Aug 2007
06 Aug 2007

Scaling net ecosystem production and net biome production over a heterogeneous region in the western United States

D. P. Turner, W. D. Ritts, B. E. Law, W. B. Cohen, Z. Yang, T. Hudiburg, J. L. Campbell, and M. Duane

Abstract. Bottom-up scaling of net ecosystem production (NEP) and net biome production (NBP) was used to generate a carbon budget for a large heterogeneous region (the state of Oregon, 2.5×105 km2) in the western United States. Landsat resolution (30 m) remote sensing provided the basis for mapping land cover and disturbance history, thus allowing us to account for all major fire and logging events over the last 30 years. For NEP, a 23-year record (1980–2002) of distributed meteorology (1 km resolution) at the daily time step was used to drive a process-based carbon cycle model (Biome-BGC). For NBP, fire emissions were computed from remote sensing based estimates of area burned and our mapped biomass estimates. Our estimates for the contribution of logging and crop harvest removals to NBP were from the model simulations and were checked against public records of forest and crop harvesting. The predominately forested ecoregions within our study region had the highest NEP sinks, with ecoregion averages up to 197 gC m−2 yr−1. Agricultural ecoregions were also NEP sinks, reflecting the imbalance of NPP and decomposition of crop residues. For the period 1996–2000, mean NEP for the study area was 17.0 TgC yr−1, with strong interannual variation (SD of 10.6). The sum of forest harvest removals, crop removals, and direct fire emissions amounted to 63% of NEP, leaving a mean NBP of 6.1 TgC yr−1. Carbon sequestration was predominantly on public forestland, where the harvest rate has fallen dramatically in the recent years. Comparison of simulation results with estimates of carbon stocks, and changes in carbon stocks, based on forest inventory data showed generally good agreement. The carbon sequestered as NBP, plus accumulation of forest products in slow turnover pools, offset 51% of the annual emissions of fossil fuel CO2 for the state. State-level NBP dropped below zero in 2002 because of the combination of a dry climate year and a large (200 000 ha) fire. These results highlight the strong influence of land management and interannual variation in climate on the terrestrial carbon flux in the temperate zone.

Final-revised paper