Synthesis of multiple observations of the disturbance impacts on the carbon cycle


The North America Carbon Program (NACP) has initiated an assessment of how disturbance events interact with climate change to modify exchanges of carbon between the atmosphere and forested ecosystems of North America, as well as to examine the vulnerability of the large surface organic carbon and mineral soil organic pools (particularly at high northern latitudes). Working group 2d is focused on quantifying the impacts of disturbance on the processes regulating carbon exchange, with a focus on how forests are responding to variations in disturbance regimes and recovering from disturbances. We provide an overview of recent research and observations that have improved the ability to quantify the impacts of disturbance, particularly the use of field measurements to understand how variations in the disturbance regime impact post-disturbance recovery, and monitoring patterns of post-disturbance recovery using satellite observations. We focus on the integration of information provided by these approaches and how they improve our understanding of how disturbance impacts carbon cycling in forests. Specific examples are provided on post-fire recovery of boreal forests under a changing fire regime, and forest recovery following land clearing in temperate forest ecosystems. We discuss these observations in the context of how climate change may be altering the patterns of post-disturbance succession in ways that have not been previously observed, including changes in forest composition, thus requiring innovative approaches to predicting the impacts of disturbance on carbon cycling.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

Publication Date


Journal Title

EOS, Transactions American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting, Supplement


American Geophysical Union Publications

Document Type

Conference Proceeding