Contemporary carbon dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems in the Southeastern Plains of the United States

Environmental Management
By: , and 



Quantifying carbon dynamics over large areas is frequently hindered by the lack of consistent, high-quality, spatially explicit land use and land cover change databases and appropriate modeling techniques. In this paper, we present a generic approach to address some of these challenges. Land cover change information in the Southeastern Plains ecoregion was derived from Landsat data acquired in 1973, 1980, 1986, 1992, and 2000 within 11 randomly located 20-km × 20-km sample blocks. Carbon dynamics within each of the sample blocks was simulated using the General Ensemble Biogeochemical Modeling System (GEMS), capable of assimilating the variances and covariance of major input variables into simulations using an ensemble approach. Results indicate that urban and forest areas have been increasing, whereas agricultural land has been decreasing since 1973. Forest clear-cutting activity has intensified, more than doubling from 1973 to 2000. The Southeastern Plains has been acting as a carbon sink since 1973, with an average rate of 0.89 Mg C/ha/yr. Biomass, soil organic carbon (SOC), and harvested materials account for 56%, 34%, and 10% of the sink, respectively. However, the sink has declined continuously during the same period owing to forest aging in the northern part of the ecoregion and increased forest clear-cutting activities in the south. The relative contributions to the sink from SOC and harvested materials have increased, implying that these components deserve more study in the future. The methods developed here can be used to quantify the impacts of human management activities on the carbon cycle at landscape to global scales.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Contemporary carbon dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems in the Southeastern Plains of the United States
Series title Environmental Management
DOI 10.1007/s00267-003-9152-z
Volume 33
Issue S1
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 15 p.
First page S442
Last page S456
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