Modelling long-term impacts of changes in climate, nitrogen deposition and ozone exposure on carbon sequestration of European forest ecosystems

de Vries, Wim; Posch, Maximilian; Simpson, David; Reinds, Gert Jan


We modelled the effects of past and expected future changes in climate (temperature, precipitation), CO2 concentration, nitrogen deposition (N) and ozone (O3) exposure (phytotoxic ozone dose, POD) on carbon (C) sequestration by European forest ecosystems for the period 1900–2050. Tree C sequestration was assessed by using empirical response functions, while soil C sequestration was simulated with the process-based model VSD, combined with the RothC model. We evaluated two empirical growth responses to N deposition (linear and non-linear) and two O3 exposure relationships (linear function with total biomass or net annual increment). We further investigated an ‘interactive model’ with interactions between drivers and a ‘multiplicative model’, in which the combined effect is the product of individual drivers. A single deposition and climate scenario was used for the period 1900–2050. Contrary to expectations, growth observations at European level for the period 1950–2010 compared better with predictions by the multiplicative model than with the interactive model. This coincides with the fact that carbon responses in kg C ha− 1 yr− 1 per unit change in drivers, i.e. per °C, ppm CO2, kg N ha− 1 yr− 1 and mmol m− 2 yr− 1 POD, are more in line with literature data when using the multiplicative model. Compared to 1900, the estimated European average total C sequestration in both forests and forest soils between 1950 and 2000 increased by 21% in the interactive model and by 41% in the multiplicative model, but observed changes were even higher. This growth increase is expected to decline between 2000 and 2050. The simulated changes between 1950 and 2000 were mainly due to the increase in both N deposition and CO2, while the predicted increases between 2000 and 2050 were mainly caused by the increase in CO2 and temperature, and to lesser extent a decrease in POD, counteracted by reduced N deposition.