Forests as carbon sinks : a comparison between the boreal forest and the tropical forest

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för naturgeografi och ekosystemvetenskap

Abstract: The world’s forest biomes have an important role in the global carbon cycle. With an increasing level of atmospheric CO2 concentration, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuel and deforestation, it is important to analyze the significance of the forests biomes as carbon sinks. This review analyses the boreal forest and the tropical forest by investigating the amount of carbon taken up and where most of the carbon is stored. Also, the future climate impact on these forests and their carbon uptake is investigated. The carbon storage in the two different forest biomes varies between the different studies. This is mainly due to the variation in total forest extent, and also the different methods used for estimating the carbon concentrations. Furthermore, the boreal forest stores most of its carbon in the soils, whereas the tropical forest stores most of the carbon in the plant biomass. The future climate changes, caused by the increasing levels of CO2, will mostly affect the boreal forest by increasing the frequency of natural disturbances such as fire and insect outbreaks. Even though climate change seems to have great impact on the tropical forest and its future ability to take up carbon, anthropogenic disturbances such as deforestation, seems to have a greater effect on this forest type and its ability to store carbon.

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