A large and persistent carbon sink in the world's forests

Yude Pan, Richard A. Birdsey, Jingyun Fang, Richard Houghton, Pekka E. Kauppi, Werner A. Kurz, Oliver L. Phillips, Anatoly Shvidenko, Simon L. Lewis, Josep G. Canadell, Philippe Ciais, Robert B. Jackson, Stephen W. Pacala, A. David McGuire, Shilong Piao, Aapo Rautiainen, Stephen Sitch, Daniel Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2969 Scopus citations

Abstract

The terrestrial carbon sink has been large in recent decades, but its size and location remain uncertain. Using forest inventory data and long-term ecosystem carbon studies, we estimate a total forest sink of 2.4 ± 0.4 petagrams of carbon per year (Pg C year-1) globally for 1990 to 2007. We also estimate a source of 1.3 ± 0.7 Pg C year-1 from tropical land-use change, consisting of a gross tropical deforestation emission of 2.9 ± 0.5 Pg C year-1 partially compensated by a carbon sink in tropical forest regrowth of 1.6 ± 0.5 Pg C year-1. Together, the fluxes comprise a net global forest sink of 1.1 ± 0.8 Pg C year-1, with tropical estimates having the largest uncertainties. Our total forest sink estimate is equivalent in magnitude to the terrestrial sink deduced from fossil fuel emissions and land-use change sources minus ocean and atmospheric sinks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)988-993
Number of pages6
JournalScience
Volume333
Issue number6045
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 19 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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