Tropical forests and atmospheric carbon dioxide: current knowledge and potential future scenarios

Lewis, Simon L., Phillips, Oliver L., Baker, Timothy R., Malhi, Yadvinder, and Lloyd, Jon (2006) Tropical forests and atmospheric carbon dioxide: current knowledge and potential future scenarios. In: Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim, Cramer, Wolfgang, Nakicenovic, Nebojsa, Wigley, Tom, and Yohe, Gary, (eds.) Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 147-153.

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Abstract

Tropical forests affect atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, and hence modulate the rate of climate change - by being a source of carbon, from land-use change (deforestation), and as a sink or source of carbon in remaining intact forest. These fluxes are among the least understood and most uncertain major fluxes within the global carbon cycle. We synthesise recent research on the tropical forest biome carbon balance, suggesting that intact forests presently function as a carbon sink of approx. 1.2 Pg C a ^-1, and that deforestation emissions at the higher end of the reported 1 - 3 Pg C a^ -1 spectrum are likely. Scenarios suggest that the source from deforestation will remain high, whereas the sink in intact forest is unlikely to continue, and remaining tropical forests may become a major carbon source via one or more of (i) changing photosynthesis/respiration rates, (ii) functional/biodiversity changes within intact forest, or widespread forest collapse via (iii) drought, or (iv) fire. Each scenario risks possible positive feedbacks with the climate system suggesting that current estimates of the possible rate, magnitude and effects of global climate change over the coming decades may be conservative.

Item ID: 18031
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
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ISBN: 978-0-521-86471-8
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2011 06:10
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9699 Other Environment > 969999 Environment not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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