New methods quantify fluxes of carbon from terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in southeast Alaska
Mitigating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide by increasing forest sequestration of carbon is a high priority for forest managers. Assessing management impacts on carbon in aboveground vegetation is straightforward, but accounting for fluxes from belowground storage pools is challenging. Projected changes in temperature and moisture over the next 80 years could dramatically increase the release of carbon currently stored in soil. In a rain forest like the Tongass National Forest where terrestrial and aquatic systems are closely linked, increases in the amount of carbon and associated nutrients exported to coastal estuaries could have far-reaching impacts on estuarine productivity and fish habitat. Changes in freshwater fish habitat quality stemming from increased mobilization of dissolved organic matter, increased water temperature, and higher stream respiration could affect survival of salmon during egg development and early juvenile stages.
Scientists in southeast Alaska have established methods for quantifying fluxes of carbon from terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems across a gradient of forest structures. It provides a powerful approach to understanding short- and long-term aspects of carbon sequestration on the forest, which can then be applied to regional and national carbon sequestration goals.
Forest Service Partners