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 B1.28 Pg C y 1 over the entire Amazon region. We also find that intermediate-scale disturbances account for losses of B0.01 Pg C y 1 , and that the largest-scale disturbances as a result of blow-downs only account for losses of B0.003 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.
Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
F. D. B. Espírito-Santo et al., "Size and frequency of natural forest disturbances and the Amazon forest carbon balance," Nature Communications, Mar. 2014.
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