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ArticleHeterotrophic respiration in disturbed forests : a review with examples from North America(American Geophysical Union, 2011-05-14) Harmon, Mark E. ; Bond-Lamberty, Benjamin ; Tang, Jianwu ; Vargas, RodrigoHeterotrophic respiration (RH) is a major process releasing carbon to the atmosphere and is essential to understanding carbon dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems. Here we review what is known about this flux as related to forest disturbance using examples from North America. The global RH flux from soils has been estimated at 53–57 Pg C yr−1, but this does not include contributions from other sources (i.e., dead wood, heart-rots). Disturbance-related inputs likely account for 20–50% of all RH losses in forests, and disturbances lead to a reorganization of ecosystem carbon pools that influences how RH changes over succession. Multiple controls on RH related to climate, the material being decomposed, and the decomposers involved have been identified, but how each potentially interacts with disturbance remains an open question. An emerging paradigm of carbon dynamics suggests the possibility of multiple periods of carbon sinks and sources following disturbance; a large contributing factor is the possibility that postdisturbance RH does not always follow the monotonic decline assumed in the classic theory. Without a better understanding and modeling of RH and its controlling factors, it will be difficult to estimate, forecast, understand, and manage carbon balances of regions in which disturbance frequency and severity are changing. Meeting this challenge will require (1) improved field data on processes and stores, (2) an improved understanding of the physiological and environmental controls of RH, and (3) a more formal analysis of how model structure influences the RH responses that can be predicted.
ArticleSimulating the impacts of disturbances on forest carbon cycling in North America : processes, data, models, and challenges(American Geophysical Union, 2011-11-08) Liu, Shuguang ; Bond-Lamberty, Benjamin ; Hicke, Jeffrey A. ; Vargas, Rodrigo ; Zhao, Shuqing ; Chen, Jing ; Edburg, Steven L. ; Hu, Yueming ; Liu, Jinxun ; McGuire, A. David ; Xiao, Jingfeng ; Keane, Robert ; Yuan, Wenping ; Tang, Jianwu ; Luo, Yiqi ; Potter, Christopher ; Oeding, JenniferForest disturbances greatly alter the carbon cycle at various spatial and temporal scales. It is critical to understand disturbance regimes and their impacts to better quantify regional and global carbon dynamics. This review of the status and major challenges in representing the impacts of disturbances in modeling the carbon dynamics across North America revealed some major advances and challenges. First, significant advances have been made in representation, scaling, and characterization of disturbances that should be included in regional modeling efforts. Second, there is a need to develop effective and comprehensive process-based procedures and algorithms to quantify the immediate and long-term impacts of disturbances on ecosystem succession, soils, microclimate, and cycles of carbon, water, and nutrients. Third, our capability to simulate the occurrences and severity of disturbances is very limited. Fourth, scaling issues have rarely been addressed in continental scale model applications. It is not fully understood which finer scale processes and properties need to be scaled to coarser spatial and temporal scales. Fifth, there are inadequate databases on disturbances at the continental scale to support the quantification of their effects on the carbon balance in North America. Finally, procedures are needed to quantify the uncertainty of model inputs, model parameters, and model structures, and thus to estimate their impacts on overall model uncertainty. Working together, the scientific community interested in disturbance and its impacts can identify the most uncertain issues surrounding the role of disturbance in the North American carbon budget and develop working hypotheses to reduce the uncertainty.