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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-2020-198
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-198
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 09 Jun 2020

Submitted as: research article | 09 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

The Climate Benefit of Carbon Sequestration

Carlos A. Sierra1, Susan E. Crow2, Martin Heimann1,3, Holger Metzler1, and Ernst-Detleft Schulze1 Carlos A. Sierra et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, 07745 Jena, Germany
  • 2University of Hawaii Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
  • 3University of Helsinki, 00560 Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. Ecosystems play a fundamental role in climate change mitigation by taking up carbon from the atmosphere and storing it for a period of time in organic matter. Although climate impacts of carbon emissions can be quantified by global warming potentials, it is not necessarily clear what are appropriate formal metrics to assess climate benefits of carbon removals by sinks. We introduce here the Climate Benefit of Sequestration (CBS), a metric that quantifies the radiative effect of taking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and retaining it for a period of time in an ecosystem before releasing it back to the atmosphere. To quantify CBS, we also propose a formal definition of carbon sequestration (CS) as the integral of an amount of carbon taken up from the atmosphere stored over the time horizon it remains in an ecosystem. Both metrics incorporate the separate effects of i) inputs (amount of atmospheric carbon removal), and ii) transit time (time of carbon retention) in carbon sinks, which can vary largely for different ecosystems or management types. In three separate examples, we show how to compute and apply these metrics to compare different carbon management practices in forestry and soils. We believe these metrics can be useful in resolving current controversies about the management of ecosystems for climate change mitigation.

Carlos A. Sierra et al.

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Carlos A. Sierra et al.

Carlos A. Sierra et al.

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Latest update: 07 Jul 2020
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Short summary
The Climate Benefit of carbon Sequestration (CBS) is a metric developed to quantify avoided warming by two separate processes: the amount of carbon drawdown from the atmosphere, and the time this carbon is stored in a reservoir. This metric can be useful for quantifying the role of forests and soils for climate change mitigation, and to better quantify the benefits of carbon removals by sinks.
The Climate Benefit of carbon Sequestration (CBS) is a metric developed to quantify avoided...
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