, Volume 132, Issue 1, pp 71-81
Date: 01 Oct 2012

The impact of tropospheric ozone on landscape-level merchantable biomass and ecosystem carbon in Canadian forests

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Abstract

Studies have shown that tropospheric ozone (O3) impacts trees in various ways, including growth reductions. To date, the landscape-level response of Canadian forests carbon (C) to O3 exposure has not been quantified. We used a modified version of the Carbon Budget Model of the Canadian Forest Sector and data from Aspen FACE to quantify the landscape-level impacts of different O3 exposure modelling experiments. The main strengths of our approach consisted of using the most complete empirical data available to estimate the amount and location of forest C across Canada, as well as explicitly simulating the consequences of fire, insect, and harvest disturbances on forest C dynamics. These disturbances lead to younger forests and, considering trees sensitivity to O3 exposure to decrease with age, thus result in higher landscape-level modelled impacts for the same O3 levels. Despite various sources of uncertainty, our results indicate that even under a modelling experiment where O3 increases continuously over four decades, the landscape-level impacts on the merchantable biomass and ecosystem C remain limited. Our results also suggest that the current direct impacts of O3 on Canadian forests are likely below detection at the landscape level.

Communicated by R. Matyssek.