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      The stage-classified matrix models project a significant increase in biomass carbon stocks in China’s forests between 2005 and 2050

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          Abstract

          China’s forests are characterized by young age, low carbon (C) density and a large plantation area, implying a high potential for increasing C sinks in the future. Using data of provincial forest area and biomass C density from China’s forest inventories between 1994 and 2008 and the planned forest coverage of the country by 2050, we developed a stage-classified matrix model to predict biomass C stocks of China’s forests from 2005 to 2050. The results showed that total forest biomass C stock would increase from 6.43 Pg C (1 Pg = 10 15 g) in 2005 to 9.97 Pg C (95% confidence interval: 8.98 ~ 11.07 Pg C) in 2050, with an overall net C gain of 78.8 Tg C yr −1 (56.7 ~ 103.3 Tg C yr −1; 1 Tg = 10 12 g). Our findings suggest that China’s forests will be a large and persistent biomass C sink through 2050.

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          Changes in forest biomass carbon storage in China between 1949 and 1998.

          The location and mechanisms responsible for the carbon sink in northern mid-latitude lands are uncertain. Here, we used an improved estimation method of forest biomass and a 50-year national forest resource inventory in China to estimate changes in the storage of living biomass between 1949 and 1998. Our results suggest that Chinese forests released about 0.68 petagram of carbon between 1949 and 1980, for an annual emission rate of 0.022 petagram of carbon. Carbon storage increased significantly after the late 1970s from 4.38 to 4.75 petagram of carbon by 1998, for a mean accumulation rate of 0.021 petagram of carbon per year, mainly due to forest expansion and regrowth. Since the mid-1970s, planted forests (afforestation and reforestation) have sequestered 0.45 petagram of carbon, and their average carbon density increased from 15.3 to 31.1 megagrams per hectare, while natural forests have lost an additional 0.14 petagram of carbon, suggesting that carbon sequestration through forest management practices addressed in the Kyoto Protocol could help offset industrial carbon dioxide emissions.
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            The carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems in China.

            Global terrestrial ecosystems absorbed carbon at a rate of 1-4 Pg yr(-1) during the 1980s and 1990s, offsetting 10-60 per cent of the fossil-fuel emissions. The regional patterns and causes of terrestrial carbon sources and sinks, however, remain uncertain. With increasing scientific and political interest in regional aspects of the global carbon cycle, there is a strong impetus to better understand the carbon balance of China. This is not only because China is the world's most populous country and the largest emitter of fossil-fuel CO(2) into the atmosphere, but also because it has experienced regionally distinct land-use histories and climate trends, which together control the carbon budget of its ecosystems. Here we analyse the current terrestrial carbon balance of China and its driving mechanisms during the 1980s and 1990s using three different methods: biomass and soil carbon inventories extrapolated by satellite greenness measurements, ecosystem models and atmospheric inversions. The three methods produce similar estimates of a net carbon sink in the range of 0.19-0.26 Pg carbon (PgC) per year, which is smaller than that in the conterminous United States but comparable to that in geographic Europe. We find that northeast China is a net source of CO(2) to the atmosphere owing to overharvesting and degradation of forests. By contrast, southern China accounts for more than 65 per cent of the carbon sink, which can be attributed to regional climate change, large-scale plantation programmes active since the 1980s and shrub recovery. Shrub recovery is identified as the most uncertain factor contributing to the carbon sink. Our data and model results together indicate that China's terrestrial ecosystems absorbed 28-37 per cent of its cumulated fossil carbon emissions during the 1980s and 1990s.
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              Evidence for environmentally enhanced forest growth.

              Forests in the middle and high latitudes of the northern hemisphere function as a significant sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). This carbon (C) sink has been attributed to two processes: age-related growth after land use change and growth enhancement due to environmental changes, such as elevated CO2, nitrogen deposition, and climate change. However, attribution between these two processes is largely controversial. Here, using a unique time series of an age-class dataset from six national forest inventories in Japan and a new approach developed in this study (i.e., examining changes in biomass density at each age class over the inventory periods), we quantify the growth enhancement due to environmental changes and its contribution to biomass C sink in Japan's forests. We show that the growth enhancement for four major plantations was 4.0∼7.7 Mg C⋅ha(-1) from 1980 to 2005, being 8.4-21.6% of biomass C sequestration per hectare and 4.1-35.5% of the country's total net biomass increase of each forest type. The growth enhancement differs among forest types, age classes, and regions. Our results provide, to our knowledge, the first ground-based evidence that global environmental changes can increase C sequestration in forests on a broad geographic scale and imply that both the traits and age of trees regulate the responses of forest growth to environmental changes. These findings should be incorporated into the prediction of forest C cycling under a changing climate.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group
                2045-2322
                25 June 2015
                2015
                : 5
                : 11203
                Affiliations
                [1 ]State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing, China
                [2 ]Department of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Science, and Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, Peking University , Beijing, China
                [3 ]National Satellite Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration , Beijing, China
                Author notes
                [*]

                These authors contributed equally to this work.

                [†]

                Current address: Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling, Station d’Ecologie Experimentale du CNRS, Moulis, France.

                Article
                srep11203
                10.1038/srep11203
                4480144
                26110831
                6ac13485-c57f-44b8-a16a-388059acf066
                Copyright © 2015, Macmillan Publishers Limited

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

                History
                : 24 December 2014
                : 30 March 2015
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