Canadian Forest Service Publications

Factoring out natural and indirect human effects on terrestrial carbon sources and sinks. 2007. Canadell, J.G.; Kirschbaum, M.U.F.; Kurz, W.A.; Sanz, M.-J.; Schlamadinger, B.; Yamagata, Y. Environmental Science and Policy 10: 370-384.

Year: 2007

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 27376

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2007.01.009

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The capacity to partition natural, indirect, and direct human-induced effects on terrestrial carbon (C) sources and sinks is necessary to be able to predict future terrestrial C dynamics and thus their influence on atmospheric CO2 growth. However, it will take a number of years before we can better attribute quantitative estimates of the contribution of various C processes to the net C balance. In a policy context, factoring out natural and indirect human-induced effects on C sources and sinks from the direct human-induced influences, is seen as a requirement of a C accounting approach that establishes a clear and unambiguous connection between human activities and the assignment of C credits and debits. We present options for factoring out various groups of influences including climate variability, CO2 and N fertilization, and legacies from forest management. These are: (i) selecting longer accounting or measurement periods to reduce the effects of inter-annual variability; (ii) correction of national inventories for inter-annual variability; (iii) use of activity-based accounting and C response curves; (iv) use of baseline scenarios or benchmarks at the national level; (v) stratification of the landscape into units with distinct average C stocks. Other, more sophisticated modeling approaches (e.g., demographic models in combination with forest inventories; process-based models) are possible options for future C accounting systems but their complexity and data requirements make their present adoption more difficult in an inclusive international C accounting system.