BIOGEOCHEMISTRY

Measuring carbon uptake by tropical forests

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Science  19 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6241, pp. 1328
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6241.1328-a

Canopy of a carbon-rich tropical forest in the Amazon

PHOTO: SALPARADIS/ISTOCK PHOTO

The carbon uptake by tropical forests is a key part of the global carbon budget. Yet accurately measuring this quantity—termed the net primary production or NPP—in tropical forests is challenging, hampering efforts to predict how it may respond to climatic and environmental change. Cleveland et al. have compared NPP estimates from small-scale observations, satellite data, and biogeochemical models. Although the large-scale estimates are similar for all three approaches, the spatial and temporal patterns are very different. Each approach is sensitive to different environmental drivers (such as drought), and it remains unclear which results are correct. The authors explain how an integrated monitoring network could capture the diversity of tropical forest landscapes.

Global Biogeochem. Cycles 10.1002/2014GB005022 (2015).

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