Estimating carbon budgets for U.S. ecosystems



On a global basis, plants and soils may hold more than twice the amount of carbon present in the atmosphere [Geider et al., 2001]. Under increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and subsequently warming temperatures, these large biogenic pools may change in size [Cox et al., 2000]. Due to a lack of long-term field studies, there is uncertainty as to whether vegetation and soils will act as a net sink or a source of atmospheric CO2 in coming years. It is certain, however, that no retrospective analysis of the U.S. carbon balance will be possible without a comprehensive historical baseline of the sizes of various ecosystem carbon pools and the variability in their net annual increments.