Exchange of Carbon Dioxide by a Deciduous Forest: Response to Interannual Climate Variability

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Science  15 Mar 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5255, pp. 1576-1578
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5255.1576


The annual net uptake of CO2 by a deciduous forest in New England varied from 1.4 to 2.8 metric tons of carbon per hectare between 1991 and 1995. Carbon sequestration was higher than average in 1991 because of increased photosynthesis and in 1995 because of decreased respiration. Interannual shifts in photosynthesis were associated with the timing of leaf expansion and senescence. Shifts in annual respiration were associated with anomalies in soil temperature, deep snow in winter, and drought in summer. If this ecosystem is typical of northern biomes, interannual climate variations on seasonal time scales may modify annual CO2 exchange in the Northern Hemisphere by 1 gigaton of carbon or more each year.