4 years ago

Global-scale impacts of nitrogen deposition on tree carbon sequestration in tropical, temperate, and boreal forests: A meta-analysis

Global-scale impacts of nitrogen deposition on tree carbon sequestration in tropical, temperate, and boreal forests: A meta-analysis
Wim de Vries, Lena Schulte-Uebbing
Elevated nitrogen (N) deposition may increase net primary productivity in N-limited terrestrial ecosystems and thus enhance the terrestrial carbon (C) sink. To assess the magnitude of this N-induced C sink, we performed a meta-analysis on data from forest fertilization experiments to estimate N-induced C sequestration in aboveground tree woody biomass, a stable C pool with long turnover times. Our results show that boreal and temperate forests responded strongly to N addition and sequestered on average an additional 14 and 13 kg C per kg N in aboveground woody biomass, respectively. Tropical forests, however, did not respond significantly to N addition. The common hypothesis that tropical forests do not respond to N because they are phosphorus-limited could not be confirmed, as we found no significant response to phosphorus addition in tropical forests. Across climate zones, we found that young forests responded more strongly to N addition, which is important as many previous meta-analyses of N addition experiments rely heavily on data from experiments on seedlings and young trees. Furthermore, the C–N response (defined as additional mass unit of C sequestered per additional mass unit of N addition) was affected by forest productivity, experimental N addition rate, and rate of ambient N deposition. The estimated C–N responses from our meta-analysis were generally lower that those derived with stoichiometric scaling, dynamic global vegetation models, and forest growth inventories along N deposition gradients. We estimated N-induced global C sequestration in tree aboveground woody biomass by multiplying the C–N responses obtained from the meta-analysis with N deposition estimates per biome. We thus derived an N-induced global C sink of about 177 (112–243) Tg C/year in aboveground and belowground woody biomass, which would account for about 12% of the forest biomass C sink (1,400 Tg C/year). To estimate whether nitrogen addition leads to additional carbon sequestration in forests, we performed a meta-analysis of forest fertilization experiments that measure woody biomass increment following nitrogen addition. We found that nitrogen addition leads to additional carbon sequestration in tree aboveground woody biomass in boreal and temperate forests (13–14 kilogram carbon per kilogram nitrogen), but not in tropical forests. Younger forests generally responded more strongly to nitrogen addition than older forests. Using an upscaling approach, we estimate that nitrogen deposition globally leads to additional C sequestration in forest woody biomass of about 177 Tg C/year.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13862

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