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Accelerating Growth Rates of British Colombia (Canada) Forests

Wu, C., Hember, R.A., Chen, J.M., Kurz, W.A., Price, D.T., Boisvenue, C., Gonsamo, A. and Ju, W. 2014. Accelerating forest growth enhancement due to climate and atmospheric changes in British Colombia, Canada over 1956-2001. Scientific Reports 4: 10.1038/srep04461.
Writing as background for their work, Wu et al. (2014) state that "changes in climate and atmospheric CO2 and nitrogen (N) over the last several decades have induced significant effects on forest carbon (C) cycling." But they go on to say that "contributions of individual factors are largely unknown because of the lack of long observational data and the undifferentiating between intrinsic factors and external forces in current ecosystem models." Thus, they set out to determine such. More specifically, working with over four decades (1956-2001) of forest inventory data that they obtained at 3432 permanent sample sites in maritime and boreal regions of British Columbia (B.C.), Canada, along with continuous flux measurements acquired at three chronosequence forest sites, Wu et al. describe how "growth enhancements were reconstructed and partitioned into contributions of climate, CO2 and N after removal of age effects," which they accomplished with the help of the process-based InTEC model (Chen et al., 2003) that considers the role of stand development when simulating various forest processes.

In the words of the eight scientists, results indicated "that climate change contributed a particularly large amount (over 70%) of the accumulated growth enhancement, while the remaining was attributed to CO2 and N, respectively." Wu et al. conclude their work by stating "climate warming is contributing a widespread and significant growth enhancement in B.C.'s forests," which they imply was a doubly-significant positive phenomenon, in light of the fact that in addition to the obvious growth enhancement benefit, "forest ecosystems that sequester carbon from the atmosphere play an important role in Earth's carbon budget by offsetting the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by fossil fuel emissions and land-use change."

Additional Reference
Chen, J.M., Ju, W., Cihlar, J., Price, D., Liu, J., Chen, W., Pan, J., Black, A. and Barr, A. 2003. Spatial distribution of carbon sources and sinks in Canada's forests. Tellus B 55: 622-641.

Archived 1 July 2014