Factors Controlling Long- and Short-Term Sequestration of Atmospheric CO2 in a Mid-latitude Forest

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Science  23 Nov 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5547, pp. 1688-1691
DOI: 10.1126/science.1062962

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Net uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) measured by eddy covariance in a 60- to 80-year-old forest averaged 2.0 ± 0.4 megagrams of carbon per hectare per year during 1993 to 2000, with interannual variations exceeding 50%. Biometry indicated storage of 1.6 ± 0.4 megagrams of carbon per hectare per year over 8 years, 60% in live biomass and the balance in coarse woody debris and soils, confirming eddy-covariance results. Weather and seasonal climate (e.g., variations in growing-season length or cloudiness) regulated seasonal and interannual fluctuations of carbon uptake. Legacies of prior disturbance and management, especially stand age and composition, controlled carbon uptake on the decadal time scale, implying that eastern forests could be managed for sequestration of carbon.

  • * Present address: Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: steven_wofsy{at}

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