Canadian Forest Service Publications

Uncertainty of 21st century growing stocks and GHG balance of forests in British Columbia, Canada resulting from potential climate change impacts on ecosystem processes. 2011. Metsaranta, J.M.; Dymond, C.C.; Kurz, W.A.; Spittlehouse, D.L. Forest Ecology and Management 262(5):827-837. (Includes Supplementary Data)

Year: 2011

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 32538

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2011.05.016

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Over the coming decades, climate change will increasingly affect forest ecosystem processes, but the future magnitude and direction of these responses is uncertain. We designed 12 scenarios combining possible changes in tree growth rates, decay rates, and area burned by wildfire with forecasts of future harvest to quantify the uncertainty of future (2010–2080), timber growing stock, ecosystem C stock, and greenhouse gas (GHG) balance for 67 million ha of forest in British Columbia, Canada. Each scenario was simulated 100 times with the Carbon Budget Model of the Canadian Forest Sector (CBM-CFS3). Depending on the scenario, timber growing stock over the entire land-base may increase by 14% or decrease by 9% by 2080 (a range of 2.8 billion m3), relative to 2010. However, timber growing stock available for harvest was forecast to decline in all scenarios by 26–62% relative to 2010 (a range of 1.2 billion m3). Forests were an annual GHG source in 2010 due to an ongoing insect outbreak. If half of the C in harvested wood was assumed to be immediately emitted, then 0–95% of simulations returned to annual net sinks by 2040, depending on scenario, and the cumulative (2010–2080) GHG balance ranged from a sink of −4.5 Pg CO2e (−67 Mg CO2e ha−1) for the most optimistic scenario, to a source of 4.5 Pg CO2e (67 Mg CO2e ha−1) for the most pessimistic. The difference in total ecosystem carbon stocks between the most optimistic and pessimistic scenarios in 2080 was 2.4 Pg C (36 Mg C ha−1), an average difference of 126 Tg CO2e yr−1 (2 Mg CO2e yr−1 ha−1) over the 70-year simulation period, approximately double the total reported anthropogenic GHG emissions in British Columbia in 2008. Forests risk having reduced growing stock and being GHG sources under many foreseeable scenarios, thus providing further feedback to climate change. These results indicate the need for continued monitoring of forest responses to climatic and global change, the development of mitigation and adaptation strategies by forest managers, and global efforts to minimize climate change impacts on forests.