PATTERNS AND MECHANISMS OF THE FOREST CARBON CYCLE1
▪ Abstract Forests are an important source for fiber and fuel for humans and contain the majority of the total terrestrial carbon (C). The amount of C stored in the vegetation and soil are strongly influenced by environmental constraints on annual C uptake and decomposition and time since disturbance. Increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen deposition, and climate warming induced by greater greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere influence C accumulation rates of forests, but their effects will likely differ in direction and magnitude among forest ecosystems. The net interactive effect of global change on the forest C cycle is poorly understood. The growing demand for wood fiber and fuel by humans and the ongoing anthropogenic perturbations of the climate have changed the natural disturbance regimes (i.e., frequency and intensity); these changes influence the net exchange of CO2 between forests and the atmosphere. To date, the role of forest products in the global C cycle have largely been ignored, and important emissions associated with the production, transport, and utilization of the forest products have been excluded, leading to erroneous conclusions about net C storage in forest products.