, Volume 67, Issue 2-3, pp 185-209

‘The Influence of Land Use Change On Global-Scale Fluxes of Carbon from Terrestrial Ecosystems’

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Abstract

A process-based approach to modelling the effects of land use change and climate change on the carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems was applied at global scale. Simulations were run both with and without land use change. In the absence of land use change between 1700 and 1990, carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems was predicted to increase by 145 Pg C. When land use change was represented during this period, terrestrial ecosystems became a net source of 97 Pg C. Land use change was directly responsible for a flux of 222 Pg C, slightly higher but close to estimates from other studies. The model was then run between 1990 and 2100 with a climate simulated by a GCM. Simulations were run with three land use change scenarios: 1. no land use change; 2. land use change specified by the SRES B2 scenario, and; 3. land use change scaled with population change in the B2 scenario. In the first two simulations with no or limited land use change, the net terrestrial carbon sink was substantial (358 and 257 Pg C, respectively). However, with the population-based land-use change scenario, the losses of carbon through land use change were close to the carbon gains through enhanced net ecosystem productivity, resulting in a net sink near zero. Future changes in land use are highly uncertain, but will have a large impact on the future terrestrial carbon balance. This study attempts to provide some bounds on how land use change may affect the carbon sink over the nextcentury.