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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-457
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-457
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 09 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 09 Jan 2020

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Response of carbon and water fluxes to environmental variability in two Eastern North American forests of similar-age but contrasting leaf-retention and shape strategies

Eric R. Beamesderfer, M. Altaf Arain, Myroslava Khomik, Jason J. Brodeur, and Brandon M. Burns Eric R. Beamesderfer et al.
  • School of Geography and Earth Sciences and McMaster Centre for Climate Change, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L8, Canada

Abstract. The annual carbon and water dynamics of two Eastern North American forests were compared over a six year period from 2012 to 2017. The geographic location, forest age, soil, and climate were similar between the sites, however, the species composition varied: one was a deciduous broadleaf forest, while the other an evergreen needleleaf forest. During the 6-year study period, the mean annual net ecosystem productivity (NEP) of the coniferous forest was slightly higher and more variable (218 ± 109 g C m−2 yr−1) compared to that of the deciduous broadleaf forest NEP of 200 ± 83 g C m−2 yr−1. Similarly, the mean annual evapotranspiration (ET) of the conifer forest over the 6-year study period was higher (442 ± 33 mm yr−1) compared to that of the broadleaf forest (388 ± 34 mm yr−1), but with similar interannual variability. Significant abnormalities in fluxes were measured between sites during drought years. Summer meteorology greatly impacted fluxes at both sites, but to varying degrees and with varying responses. In general, warm temperatures caused higher ecosystem respiration (RE), resulting in reduced mean annual NEP values – an impact that was more pronounced at the deciduous broadleaf forest compared to the evergreen needle-leaf forest. However, during drought years, the evergreen forest saw greater annual reduction in carbon sequestration compared to the deciduous forest. In the evergreen conifer forest, variability of summer meteorology greatly controlled the forest's annual carbon sink-source strength. Annual ET at both forests was driven by changes in air temperature (Ta), with the largest annual ET measured in the warmest years in the deciduous forest. Additionally, prolonged dry periods with increased Ta, greatly reduced ET. During drought years, the carbon and water fluxes of the deciduous forest were less sensitive to changes in temperature or water availability compared to the evergreen forest. If longer periods of increased temperatures and larger precipitation variability during summer months are to be expected under future climates, our findings suggest the carbon sink capacity of the deciduous forest will continue, while that of the conifer forest remains uncertain in the study region.

Eric R. Beamesderfer et al.
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Eric R. Beamesderfer et al.
Data sets

CA-TP4: Ontario – Turkey Point 1939 Plantation White Pine M. A. Arain https://doi.org/10.17190/AMF/1246012

CA-TPD: Ontario – Turkey Point Mature Deciduous M. A. Arain https://doi.org/10.17190/AMF/1246152

Eric R. Beamesderfer et al.
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Short summary
Temperate forests play a major role in the global carbon and water cycles, sequestering atmospheric CO2 on annual time scales. This research examined the annual carbon and water dynamics of two similar (age, soil, climate, etc.) Eastern North American temperate forests of different species composition (i.e. broadleaf vs. needleleaf). Ultimately, fluxes of the deciduous forest were found to be less sensitive to temperature and water limitations; conditions expected with future climate warming.
Temperate forests play a major role in the global carbon and water cycles, sequestering...
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