Long-term measurements of boreal forest carbon balance reveal large temperature sensitivity


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We present results from two years’ net ecosystem flux measurements above a boreal forest in central Sweden. Fluxes were measured with an eddy correlation system based on a sonic anemometer and a closed path CO2 and H2O gas analyser. The measurements show that the forest acted as a source during this period, and that the annual balance is highly sensitive to changes in temperature. The accumulated flux of carbon dioxide during the full two-year period was in the range 480–1600 g CO2 m–2. The broad range is caused by uncertainty regarding assessment of the night-time fluxes. Although annual mean temperature remained close to normal, the results are partly explained by higher than normal respiration, due to abnormal temperature distribution and reduced soil moisture during one growing season. The finding that a closed forest can be a source of carbon over such a long period as two years contrasts sharply with the common belief that forests are always carbon sinks.