Towards complete and harmonized assessment of soil carbon stocks and balance in forests: the ability of the Yasso07 model across a wide gradient of climatic and forest conditions in Europe. uri icon

abstract

  • Accurate carbon-balance accounting in forest soils is necessary for the development of climate change policy. However, changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) occur slowly and these changes may not be captured through repeated soil inventories. Simulation models may be used as alternatives to SOC measurement. The Yasso07 model presents a suitable alternative because most of the data required for the application are readily available in countries with common forest surveys. In this study, we test the suitability of Yasso07 for simulating SOC stocks and stock changes in a variety of European forests affected by different climatic, land use and forest management conditions and we address country-specific cases with differing resources and data availability. The simulated SOC stocks differed only slightly from measured data, providing realistic, reasonable mean SOC estimations per region or forest type. The change in the soil carbon pool over time, which is the target parameter for SOC reporting, was generally found to be plausible although not in the case of Mediterranean forest soils. As expected under stable forest management conditions, both land cover and climate play major roles in determining the SOC stock in forest soils. Greater mean SOC stocks were observed in northern latitudes (or at higher altitude) than in southern latitudes (or plains) and conifer forests were found to store a notably higher amount of SOC than broadleaf forests. Furthermore, as regards change in SOC, an inter-annual sink effect was identified for most of the European forest types studied. Our findings corroborate the suitability of Yasso07 to assess the impact of forest management and land use change on the SOC balance of forests soils, as well as to accurately simulate SOC in dead organic matter (DOM) and mineral soil pools separately. The obstacles encountered when applying the Yasso07 model reflect a lack of available input data. Future research should focus on improving our knowledge of C inputs from compartments such as shrubs, herbs, coarse woody debris and fine roots. This should include turnover rates and quality of the litter in all forest compartments from a wider variety of tree species and sites. Despite the limitations identified, the SOC balance estimations provided by the Yasso07 model are sufficiently complete, accurate and transparent to make it suitable for reporting purposes such as those required under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and KP (Kyoto Protocol) for a wide range of forest conditions in Europe. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017