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Nat Commun. 2014 Mar 18;5:3434. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4434.

Size and frequency of natural forest disturbances and the Amazon forest carbon balance.

Author information

1
1] NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91109, USA [2] Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire 03824, USA.
2
School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.
3
1] Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire 03824, USA [2] USDA Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, San Juan 00926-1119, Puerto Rico [3] EMBRAPA Monitoramento por Satélite, Campinas, Sao Paulo CEP 13070-115, Brazil.
4
Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK.
5
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91109, USA.
6
National Institute for Research in Amazonia (INPA), CP 478, Manaus, Amazonas 69011-970, Brazil.
7
EMBRAPA Amazônia Oriental (CPATU), Santarém, Pará CEP 68035-110 C.P. 261, Brazil.
8
1] School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK [2] Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science (TESS), School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland 4878, Australia.
9
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire 03824, USA.
10
National Institute for Space Research (INPE), São José dos Campos, Sao Paulo CEP 12227-010, Brazil.
11
Jardin Botanico de Missouri, Oxapampa 19231, Pasco, Peru.
12
1] School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK [2].
13
Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
14
School of Geography, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK.

Abstract

Forest inventory studies in the Amazon indicate a large terrestrial carbon sink. However, field plots may fail to represent forest mortality processes at landscape-scales of tropical forests. Here we characterize the frequency distribution of disturbance events in natural forests from 0.01 ha to 2,651 ha size throughout Amazonia using a novel combination of forest inventory, airborne lidar and satellite remote sensing data. We find that small-scale mortality events are responsible for aboveground biomass losses of ~1.7 Pg C y(-1) over the entire Amazon region. We also find that intermediate-scale disturbances account for losses of ~0.2 Pg C y(-1), and that the largest-scale disturbances as a result of blow-downs only account for losses of ~0.004 Pg C y(-1). Simulation of growth and mortality indicates that even when all carbon losses from intermediate and large-scale disturbances are considered, these are outweighed by the net biomass accumulation by tree growth, supporting the inference of an Amazon carbon sink.

PMID:
24643258
PMCID:
PMC4273466
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms4434
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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