Skip to Main Content
Soil fertility limits carbon sequestration by forest ecosystems in a CO2-enriched atmosphereAuthor(s): Ram Oren; David S. Ellsworth; Kurt H. Johnsen; Nathan Phillips; Brent E. Ewers; Chris Maier; Karina V.R. Schafer; Heather McCarthy; George Hendrey; Steven G. McNulty; Gabriel G. Katul
Source: Nature, Vol 411, May 2001, pp 469-472
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
PDF: Download Publication (294 KB)
DescriptionNorthern mid-latitude forests are a large terrestrial carbon sink. Ignoring nutrient limitations, large increases in carbon sequestration from carbon dioxide (CO2) fertilization are expected in these forests. Yet, forests are usually relegated to sites of moderate to poor fertility, where tree growth is often limited by nutrient supply, in particular nitrogen. Here we present evidence that estimates of increases in carbon sequestration of forests, which is expected to partially compensate for increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, are unduly optimistic. In two forest experiments on maturing pines exposed to elevated atmospheric CO2, the CO2-induced biomass carbon increment without added nutrients was undetectable at a nutritionally poor site, and the stimulation at a nutritionally moderate site was transient, stabilizing at a marginal gain after three years. However, a large synergistic gain from higher CO2 and nutrients was detected with nutrients added. This gain was even larger at the poor site (threefold higher than the expected additive effect) than at the moderate site (twofold higher). Thus, fertility can restrain the response of wood carbon sequestration to increased atmospheric CO2. Assessment of future carbon sequestration should consider the limitations imposed by soil fertility, as well as interactions with nitrogen deposition.
- You may send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationOren, Ram; Ellsworth, David S.; Johnsen, Kurt H.; Phillips, Nathan; Ewers, Brent E.; Maier, Chris; Schafer, Karina V.R.; McCarthy, Heather; Hendrey, George; McNulty, Steven G.; Katul, Gabriel G. 2001. Soil fertility limits carbon sequestration by forest ecosystems in a CO2-enriched atmosphere. Nature, Vol 411, May 2001, pp 469-472
- Combined global change effects on ecosystem processes in nine U.S
- Reduction of forest floor respiration by fertilization on both carbon dioxide-enriched and reference 17-year-old loblolly pine stands
- Interaction of ice storms and management practices on current carbon sequestration in forests with potential mitigation under future CO2 atmosphere
XML: View XML