Original Paper


, Volume 82, Issue 3, pp 217-227

First online:

Are Swedish forest soils sinks or sources for CO2—model analyses based on forest inventory data

  • Göran I. ÅgrenAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Environmental Research, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Email author 
  • , Riitta HyvönenAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Environmental Research, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • , Torbjörn NilssonAffiliated withDepartment of Forest Soils, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

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Forests soils should be neither sinks nor sources of carbon in a long-term perspective. From a Swedish perspective the time since the last glaciation has probably not been long enough to reach a steady state, although changes are currently very slow. In a shorter perspective, climatic and management changes over the past 100 years have probably created imbalances between litter input to soils and organic carbon mineralisation. Using extant data on forest inventories, we applied models to analyse possible changes in the carbon stocks of Swedish forest soils. The models use tree stocks to provide estimates of tree litter production, which are fed to models of litter decomposition and from which carbon stocks are calculated. National soil carbon stocks were estimated to have increased by 3 Tg yr−1 or 12–13 g m−2 yr−1 in the period 1926–2000 and this increase will continue because soil stocks are far from equilibrium with current litter inputs. The figure obtained is likely to be an underestimation because wet sites store more carbon than predicted here and the inhibitory effect of nitrogen deposition on soil carbon mineralisation was neglected. Knowledge about site history prior to the calculation period determines the accuracy of current soil carbon stocks estimates, although changes can be more accurately estimated.


Carbon balance Carbon modelling Forest soils