Future forest aboveground carbon dynamics in the central United States: the importance of forest demographic processes
The Central Hardwood Forest (CHF) in the United States is currently a major carbon sink, there are uncertainties in how long the current carbon sink will persist and if the CHF will eventually become a carbon source. We used a multi-model ensemble to investigate aboveground carbon density of the CHF from 2010 to 2300 under current climate. Simulations were done using one representative model for each of the simple, intermediate, and complex demographic approaches (ED2, LANDIS PRO, and LINKAGES, respectively). All approaches agreed that the current carbon sink would persist at least to 2100. However, carbon dynamics after current carbon sink diminishes to zero differ for different demographic modelling approaches. Both the simple and the complex demographic approaches predicted prolonged periods of relatively stable carbon densities after 2100, with minor declines, until the end of simulations in 2300. In contrast, the intermediate demographic approach predicted the CHF would become a carbon source between 2110 and 2260, followed by another carbon sink period. The disagreement between these patterns can be partly explained by differences in the capacity of models to simulate gross growth (both birth and subsequent growth) and mortality of short-lived, relatively shade-intolerant tree species.