Asynchronous carbon sink saturation in African and Amazonian tropical forests

Hubau Wannes, Lewis Simon L., Phillips Oliver L., Affum-Baffoe Kofi, Beeckman Hans, Cuni Sanchez Aida, Daniels Armandu K., Ewango Corneille, Fauset Sophie, Mukinzi Jacques M., Sheil Douglas, Sonké Bonaventure, Sullivan Martin J. P., Sunderland Terry C.H., Taedoumg Hermann, Thomas Sean C., White Lee J.T., Abernethy Katharine A., Adu-Bredu Stephen, Amani Christian, Baker Timothy R., Banin Lindsay F., Baya Fidèle, Begne Serge K., Bennett Amy C., Bénédet Fabrice, Bitariho Robert, Bocko Yannick, Boeckx Pascal, Boundja Patrick, Brienen Roel, Brncic Terry, Chézeaux Eric, Chuyong George B., Clark Connie J., Collins Murray, Comiskey James A., Coomes David A., Dargie Greta C., De Haulleville Thales, Djuikouo Kamdem Marie Noel, Doucet Jean-Louis, Esquivel-Muelbert Adriane, Feldpausch Ted R., Fofanah Alusine, Foli Ernest G., Gilpin Martin, Gloor Emanuel, Gonmadje Christelle, Gourlet-Fleury Sylvie, et al.. 2020. Asynchronous carbon sink saturation in African and Amazonian tropical forests. Nature, 579 : pp. 80-87.

Journal article ; Article de recherche ; Article de revue à facteur d'impact
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Thème(s) HCERES des revues (en SHS) : Economie-gestion; Psychologie-éthologie-ergonomie

Abstract : Structurally intact tropical forests sequestered about half of the global terrestrial carbon uptake over the 1990s and early 2000s, removing about 15 per cent of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Climate-driven vegetation models typically predict that this tropical forest 'carbon sink' will continue for decades. Here we assess trends in the carbon sink using 244 structurally intact African tropical forests spanning 11 countries, compare them with 321 published plots from Amazonia and investigate the underlying drivers of the trends. The carbon sink in live aboveground biomass in intact African tropical forests has been stable for the three decades to 2015, at 0.66 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year (95 per cent confidence interval 0.53–0.79), in contrast to the long-term decline in Amazonian forests. Therefore the carbon sink responses of Earth's two largest expanses of tropical forest have diverged. The difference is largely driven by carbon losses from tree mortality, with no detectable multi-decadal trend in Africa and a long-term increase in Amazonia. Both continents show increasing tree growth, consistent with the expected net effect of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and air temperature. Despite the past stability of the African carbon sink, our most intensively monitored plots suggest a post-2010 increase in carbon losses, delayed compared to Amazonia, indicating asynchronous carbon sink saturation on the two continents. A statistical model including carbon dioxide, temperature, drought and forest dynamics accounts for the observed trends and indicates a long-term future decline in the African sink, whereas the Amazonian sink continues to weaken rapidly. Overall, the uptake of carbon into Earth's intact tropical forests peaked in the 1990s. Given that the global terrestrial carbon sink is increasing in size, independent observations indicating greater recent carbon uptake into the Northern Hemisphere landmass reinforce our conclusion that the intact tropical forest carbon sink has already peaked. This saturation and ongoing decline of the tropical forest carbon sink has consequences for policies intended to stabilize Earth's climate.

Mots-clés Agrovoc : forêt tropicale, Écologie forestière, Changement climatique, séquestration du carbone, Cycle du carbone

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Afrique, Amazonie

Mots-clés géographiques complémentaires : Puit de carbone

Mots-clés libres : Climate change impacts, Ecosystem ecology, Forest ecology, Projection and prediction, Tropical ecology

Classification Agris : F40 - Plant ecology
P40 - Meteorology and climatology
P01 - Nature conservation and land resources

Champ stratégique Cirad : CTS 6 (2019-) - Changement climatique

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Hubau Wannes, Royal Museum for Central Africa (BEL) - auteur correspondant
  • Lewis Simon L., University of Leeds (GBR)
  • Phillips Oliver L., University of Leeds (GBR)
  • Affum-Baffoe Kofi, Forestry Commission (GHA)
  • Beeckman Hans, Royal Museum for Central Africa (BEL)
  • Cuni Sanchez Aida, University of York (GBR)
  • Daniels Armandu K., FDA (LBR)
  • Ewango Corneille, CEFRECOF (COG)
  • Fauset Sophie, University of Plymouth (GBR)
  • Mukinzi Jacques M., Wildlife Conservation Society (COD)
  • Sheil Douglas, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NOR)
  • Sonké Bonaventure, Université de Yaoundé (CMR)
  • Sullivan Martin J. P., University of Leeds (GBR)
  • Sunderland Terry C.H., CIFOR (IDN)
  • Taedoumg Hermann, University of Yaounde 1 (CMR)
  • Thomas Sean C., Université de Toronto (CAN)
  • White Lee J.T., University of Stirling (GBR)
  • Abernethy Katharine A., University of Stirling (GBR)
  • Adu-Bredu Stephen, Forest Research Institute (GHA)
  • Amani Christian, CIFOR (COD)
  • Baker Timothy R., University of Leeds (GBR)
  • Banin Lindsay F., Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (GBR)
  • Baya Fidèle, Ministère des eaux et forêts, chasses, pêches et tourisme (République centrafricaine) (CAF)
  • Begne Serge K., University of Leeds (GBR)
  • Bennett Amy C., University of Leeds (GBR)
  • Bénédet Fabrice, CIRAD-ES-UPR BSef (FRA) ORCID: 0000-0001-9281-5677
  • Bitariho Robert, ITFC (UGA)
  • Bocko Yannick, Université Marien Ngouabi (COG)
  • Boeckx Pascal, University of Ghent (BEL)
  • Boundja Patrick, CIFOR (COD)
  • Brienen Roel, University of Leeds (GBR)
  • Brncic Terry, Wildlife Conservation Society (COD)
  • Chézeaux Eric, Rougier-Gabon (GAB)
  • Chuyong George B., Université de Buéa (CMR)
  • Clark Connie J., Duke University (USA)
  • Collins Murray, University of Edinburgh (GBR)
  • Comiskey James A., National Park Service (USA)
  • Coomes David A., University of Cambridge (GBR)
  • Dargie Greta C., University of Leeds (GBR)
  • De Haulleville Thales, Royal Museum for Central Africa (BEL)
  • Djuikouo Kamdem Marie Noel, Université de Buéa (CMR)
  • Doucet Jean-Louis, Université de Liège (BEL)
  • Esquivel-Muelbert Adriane, University of Leeds (GBR)
  • Feldpausch Ted R., University of Exeter (GBR)
  • Fofanah Alusine, The Gola Rainforest National Park (SLE)
  • Foli Ernest G., FORIG (GHA)
  • Gilpin Martin, University of Leeds (GBR)
  • Gloor Emanuel, University of Leeds (GBR)
  • Gonmadje Christelle, National Herbarium (CMR)
  • Gourlet-Fleury Sylvie, CIRAD-ES-UPR BSef (FRA) ORCID: 0000-0002-1136-4307
  • et al.

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