The impact of nitrogen deposition on carbon sequestration in European forests and forest soils

  • De Vries W
  • Reinds G
  • Gundersen P
 et al. 
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An estimate of net carbon (C) pool changes and long-term C sequestration in trees and soils was made at more than 100 intensively monitored forest plots (level II plots) and scaled up to Europe based on data for more than 6000 forested plots in a systematic 16 km × 16 km grid (level I plots). C pool changes in trees at the level II plots were based on repeated forest growth surveys At the level I plots, an estimate of the mean annual C pool changes was derived from stand age and available site quality characteristics. C sequestration, being equal to the long-term C pool changes accounting for CO2 emissions because of harvest and forest fires, was assumed 33% of the overall C pool changes by growth. C sequestration in the soil were based on calculated nitrogen (N) retention (N deposition minus net N uptake minus N leaching) rates in soils, multiplied by the C/N ratio of the forest soils, using measured data only (level II plots) or a combination of measurements and model calculations (level I plots). Net C sequestration by forests in Europe (both trees and soil) was estimated at 0.117 Gton yr−1, with the C sequestration in stem wood being approximately four times as high (0.094 Gton yr−1) as the C sequestration in the soil (0.023 Gton yr−1). The European average impact of an additional N input on the net C sequestration was estimated at approximately 25 kg C kg−1 N for both tree wood and soil. The contribution of an average additional N deposition on European forests of 2.8 kg ha−1 yr−1 in the period 1960–2000 was estimated at 0.0118 Gton yr−1, being equal to 10% of the net C sequestration in both trees and soil in that period (0.117 Gton yr−1). The C sequestration in trees increased from Northern to Central Europe, whereas the C sequestration in soil was high in Central Europe and low in Northern and Southern Europe. The result of this study implies that the impact of forest management on tree growth is most important in explaining the C pool changes in European forests.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Carbon pools
  • Carbon sequestration
  • European scale
  • Forest
  • Forest growth
  • Forest soils
  • Intensive monitoring plots
  • Nitrogen deposition
  • Nitrogen retention

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  • Wim De Vries

  • Gert Jan Reinds

  • Per Gundersen

  • Hubert Sterba

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