Potential near-future carbon uptake overcomes losses from a large insect outbreak in British Columbia, Canada

Date

2016

Authors

Arora, Vivek K.
Peng, Yiran
Kurz, Werner A.
John C., Fyfe
Hawkins, Barbara
Werner, Arelia T.

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Publisher

Geophysical Research Letters

Abstract

The current capacity of northern high‐latitude forests to sequester carbon has been suggested to be undermined by the potential increase in fire and insect outbreaks. Here we investigate the response of the terrestrial ecosystems in the province of British Columbia (BC), Canada, to the recent large mountain pine beetle (MPB) outbreak that started in 1999 as well as changing climate and continually increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration up to 2050, in a combined framework, using a process‐based model. Model simulations suggest that the recent MPB outbreak results in BC's forests accumulating 328 Tg less carbon over the 1999–2020 period. Over this same period changing climate and increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration, however, yield enhanced carbon uptake equal to a cumulative sink of around 900–1060 Tg C, depending on the future climate change scenario, indicating that the reduced carbon uptake by land due to the MPB disturbance may already be surpassed by 2020.

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Citation

Arora, V. K., Y. Peng, W. A. Kurz, J. C. Fyfe, B. Hawkins, and A. T. Werner (2016), Potential near-future carbon uptake overcomes losses from a large insect outbreak in British Columbia, Canada, Geophysical Research Letters, 43(6), 2590–2598. doi:10.1002/2015GL067532