Part I The Importance of Carbon Sinks

Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 3-9

First online:

The search for carbon sinks in the tropics

  • Ariel E. LugoAffiliated withInstitute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service Southern Forest Experiment Station

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The study and modeling of the global C cycle have been dominated by the assumption that the atmosphere and the biota were in C steady state prior to the industrial revolution. This view led to the perception that most of the terrestrial biota was neutral with regards to the C concentration of the atmosphere. Recent evidence suggests that neither the atmosphere nor the biota were in C steady state prior to, or since, the industrial revolution. Therefore, it is now necessary to re-visit the role of natural processes in the global C cycle, study the C cycle in its totality, and focus attention on the magnitude of potential C sinks in ecosystems previously thought to be neutral with respect to atmospheric C.

“An improved understanding of the CO2 cycle is essential to predict the future rate of any atmospheric CO2 increase and to plan eventually for an international CO2 management strategy” Tans et al. (1990).