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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Land Use Changes, Disturbances, and Their Interactions on Future Forest Aboveground Biomass Dynamics in the Northern US


Wu Ma

Grant Domke

Christopher Woodall

Anthony D'Amato

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Secondary Title:


Land use change (LUC), disturbances, and their interactions play an important role in regional forest carbon (C) dynamics. Here we quantified how these activities and events may influence future aboveground biomass (AGB) dynamics in forests using national forest inventory (NFI) and Landsat time series data in the Northern United States (US). Total forest AGB predictions were based on simulations of diameter growth, mortality, and recruitment using matrix growth models under varying levels of LUC and disturbance severity (low (L), medium (M), and high (H)) every five years from 2018 to 2098. Land use change included the integrated effects of deforestation and reforestation/afforestation (forest [F]\textrightarrowagriculture [A], settlements [S, urbanization/other], and A&S\textrightarrowF), specifically, conversion from F\textrightarrowA, F\textrightarrowS, F\textrightarrowA&S, A\textrightarrowF, S\textrightarrowF, and A&S\textrightarrowF. Disturbances included natural and anthropogenic disturbances such as wildfire, weather, insects and disease, and forest harvesting. Results revealed that, when simultaneously considering both medium LUC and disturbances, total forest AGB predictions of LUC + fire, LUC + weather, LUC + insect & disease, and LUC + harvest indicated substantial increases in regional C stocks (\textpm standard deviation) from 1.88 (\textpm0.13) to 3.29 (\textpm0.28), 3.10 (\textpm0.24), 2.91 (\textpm0.19), and 2.68 (\textpm0.17) Pg C, respectively, from 2018 to 2098. An uncertainty analysis with fuzzy sets suggested that medium LUC under disturbances would lead to greater forest AGB C uptake than undisturbed forest C uptake with high certainty, except for LUC + harvest. The matrix models in this study were parameterized using NFI and Landsat data from the past few decades. Thus, our results imply that if recent trends persist, LUC will remain an important driver of forest C uptake, while disturbances may result in C emissions rather than undisturbed forest C uptake by 2098. The combined effects of LUC and disturbances may serve as an important driver of C uptake and emissions in the Northern US well into the 21st century.