Assessing Impacts of Disturbances and Climate Change on Carbon Stocks in Mexican Semidry Forests of the Yucatan Peninsula

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Zhaohua Dai, Richard Birdsey, Kristofer Johnson, Juan Manuel Dupuy, Jose Luis Hernandez-Stefanoni and Karen Richardson, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Statiuon, Newtown Square, PA, United States
The spatially explicit biogeochemical model Forest-DNDC was used to estimate carbon dynamics with disturbances and climate change in secondary semidry forests in Yucatan Peninsula. The model was validated using observations from 276 field plots in a 350 km2 region of semi-deciduous forest surrounding the intensive monitoring site at Kaxil Kiuic, and it performed well with high performance efficiency (E=0.79, R2=0.83). The simulation results showed substantial spatial differences in biomass in the forests due to historical disturbance patterns and heterogeneous forest environments. The simulated impacts of the disturbances that occurred from 1998-2010 revealed an estimated loss of total biomass carbon storage of 154.7 Gg due mainly to about 12 km2 of forestland loss. The results from disturbance scenarios indicate that disastrous storms, which are not uncommon in the Yucatan Peninsula, can substantially impact carbon storage in a short time. However, warming can produce a long-term impact on carbon sequestration, due principally to the decrease in biomass carbon at a mean rate of over 100 kg ha-1yr-1 with an increase in temperature by 1 degree Celsius. The forests in this area are highly sensitive to warming due to a semidry climate where the evapotranspiration is higher than precipitation. Even if each degree of warming increase is accompanied by an increase in precipitation of 10%, the significant impact of warming cannot be dismissed.