, Volume 242, Issue 1, pp 15-32

Historical and projected carbon balance of mature black spruce ecosystems across North America: the role of carbon–nitrogen interactions

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

The role of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) interactions on sequestration of atmospheric CO2 in black spruce ecosystems across North America was evaluated with the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM) by applying parameterizations of the model in which C–N dynamics were either coupled or uncoupled. First, the performance of the parameterizations, which were developed for the dynamics of black spruce ecosystems at the Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research site in Alaska, were evaluated by simulating C dynamics at eddy correlation tower sites in the Boreal Ecosystem Atmosphere Study (BOREAS) for black spruce ecosystems in the northern study area (northern site) and the southern study area (southern site) with local climate data. We compared simulated monthly growing season (May to September) estimates of gross primary production (GPP), total ecosystem respiration (RESP), and net ecosystem production (NEP) from 1994 to 1997 to available field-based estimates at both sites. At the northern site, monthly growing season estimates of GPP and RESP for the coupled and uncoupled simulations were highly correlated with the field-based estimates (coupled: R 2= 0.77, 0.88 for GPP and RESP; uncoupled: R 2 = 0.67, 0.92 for GPP and RESP). Although the simulated seasonal pattern of NEP generally matched the field-based data, the correlations between field-based and simulated monthly growing season NEP were lower (R 2 = 0.40, 0.00 for coupled and uncoupled simulations, respectively) in comparison to the correlations between field-based and simulated GPP and RESP. The annual NEP simulated by the coupled parameterization fell within the uncertainty of field-based estimates in two of three years. On the other hand, annual NEP simulated by the uncoupled parameterization only fell within the field-based uncertainty in one of three years. At the southern site, simulated NEP generally matched field-based NEP estimates, and the correlation between monthly growing season field-based and simulated NEP (R 2 = 0.36, 0.20 for coupled and uncoupled simulations, respectively) was similar to the correlations at the northern site. To evaluate the role of N dynamics in C balance of black spruce ecosystems across North America, we simulated historical and projected C dynamics from 1900 to 2100 with a global-based climatology at 0.5° resolution (latitude × longitude) with both the coupled and uncoupled parameterizations of TEM. From analyses at the northern site, several consistent patterns emerge. There was greater inter-annual variability in net primary production (NPP) simulated by the uncoupled parameterization as compared to the coupled parameterization, which led to substantial differences in inter-annual variability in NEP between the parameterizations. The divergence between NPP and heterotrophic respiration was greater in the uncoupled simulation, resulting in more C sequestration during the projected period. These responses were the result of fundamentally different responses of the coupled and uncoupled parameterizations to changes in CO2 and climate.