The effects of increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) and climate on net carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems of the conterminous United States for the period 1895-1993 were modeled with new, detailed historical climate information. For the period 1980-1993, results from an ensemble of three models agree within 25%, simulating a land carbon sink from CO2 and climate effects of 0.08 gigaton of carbon per year. The best estimates of the total sink from inventory data are about three times larger, suggesting that processes such as regrowth on abandoned agricultural land or in forests harvested before 1980 have effects as large as or larger than the direct effects of CO2 and climate. The modeled sink varies by about 100% from year to year as a result of climate variability.
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Contribution of increasing CO2 and climate to carbon storage by ecosystems in the United States