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Research article 15 May 2018

Research article | 15 May 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Greenhouse gas emissions from boreal inland waters unchanged after forest harvesting

Marcus Klaus1, Erik Geibrink1, Anders Jonsson1, Ann-Kristin Bergström1, David Bastviken2, Hjalmar Laudon3, Jonatan Klaminder1, and Jan Karlsson1 Marcus Klaus et al.
  • 1Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, SE-90187 Umeå, Sweden
  • 2The Department of Thematic Studies - Environmental Change, Linköping University, SE-58183 Linköping, Sweden
  • 3Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Science, SE-90183 Umeå, Sweden

Abstract. Forestry practices generally result in an increased export of carbon and nitrogen to downstream aquatic systems. Although these losses affect the greenhouse gas budget of managed forests, it is unknown if they modify greenhouse gas emissions of recipient aquatic systems. To assess this question, we quantified atmospheric fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) of humic lakes and their inlet streams in four boreal catchments of which two were treated with forest clear-cuts followed by site preparation (18% and 44% of the catchment area) using a Before/After-Control/Impact-experiment. We measured atmospheric gas fluxes and hydrological and physicochemical water characteristics in hillslope groundwater, along stream transects and at multiple locations in lakes at 2-hourly to biweekly intervals throughout the summer season over a four year period. We found that the treatment did not significantly change greenhouse gas emissions from streams or lakes within three years of the treatment, despite significant increases of CO2 and CH4 concentrations in hillslope groundwater. Our results highlight the importance of the riparian zone-stream continuum as effective biogeochemical buffers and wind shelters to prevent greenhouse gases leaching from forest clear-cuts and evasion via downstream inland waters. These findings are representative for low productive forests located in relatively flat landscapes where forestry practices cause only a limited initial impact on catchment hydrology and biogeochemistry.

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Marcus Klaus et al.
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Short summary
Forest management is widely used to mitigate climate change. However, forest greenhouse gas budgets neglect that clear-cuts often loose carbon and nitrogen to streams and lakes and potentially affect aquatic greenhouse gas emissions. Here, we show that such emissions remained unaffected by experimental boreal forest clear-cutting, despite increased groundwater carbon dioxide and methane concentrations, highlighting that riparian zones or in-stream processes may have buffered clear-cut leachates.
Forest management is widely used to mitigate climate change. However, forest greenhouse gas...