Observed and projected C change in the Southeastern USThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Over the past century forest regrowth in Europe and North America expanded forest carbon (C) sinks and offset C emissions but future C accumulation is uncertain due to the effects of land use changes, management, disturbance, and climate change. Policy makers need insights into forest C dynamics as they anticipate emissions futures and goals. Using a completely remeasured land use and forest inventory we show that forests in the southeastern United States yielded a net sink of C over a 5 year period (2007-2012) because of net land use change (+6.48 TgC yr-1) and net forest accumulation (+75.4 TgC yr-1). Forests disturbed by weather, insect/disease, and fire show positive forest C changes (+1.56, +1.4, +5.48 TgC yr-1, respectively). Forest cutting was the only disturbance causing net decreases in C (-76.7 TgC yr-1) but was offset by forest accumulation (+143.77 TgC yr-1). Projected C stock changes indicate a gradual slowing of carbon accumulation with forest aging (a reduction of 9.5% over the next five years) but was highly sensitive to land use.