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Open Access Research

Terrestrial vegetation redistribution and carbon balance under climate change

Wolfgang Lucht12*, Sibyll Schaphoff1, Tim Erbrecht1, Ursula Heyder1 and Wolfgang Cramer12

Author Affiliations

1 Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, PO Box 6012303, D-14412 Potsdam, Germany

2 Institute of Geoecology, Potsdam University, PO Box 601553, D-14415 Potsdam, Germany

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Carbon Balance and Management 2006, 1:6  doi:10.1186/1750-0680-1-6

Published: 25 July 2006

Abstract

Background

Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVMs) compute the terrestrial carbon balance as well as the transient spatial distribution of vegetation. We study two scenarios of moderate and strong climate change (2.9 K and 5.3 K temperature increase over present) to investigate the spatial redistribution of major vegetation types and their carbon balance in the year 2100.

Results

The world's land vegetation will be more deciduous than at present, and contain about 125 billion tons of additional carbon. While a recession of the boreal forest is simulated in some areas, along with a general expansion to the north, we do not observe a reported collapse of the central Amazonian rain forest. Rather, a decrease of biomass and a change of vegetation type occurs in its northeastern part. The ability of the terrestrial biosphere to sequester carbon from the atmosphere declines strongly in the second half of the 21st century.

Conclusion

Climate change will cause widespread shifts in the distribution of major vegetation functional types on all continents by the year 2100.