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Will future hurricanes compromise New England forests’ ability to store and sequester carbon?

2024-04-24
(Press-News.org) Nature-based climate solutions can help mitigate climate change, especially in forested regions capable of storing and sequestering vast amounts of carbon. New research published in Global Change Biology indicates that a single hurricane in New England, one of the most heavily forested regions in the United States, can down 4.6–9.4% of the total aboveground forest carbon, an amount much greater than the carbon sequestered annually by New England’s forests.

The work revealed that emissions from hurricanes are not instantaneous—it takes approximately 19 years for downed carbon to become a net emission, and 100 years for 90% of the downed carbon to be emitted.

Models showed that an 8% and 16% increase in hurricane wind speeds leads to a 10.7- and 24.8-fold increase, respectively, in areas that would experience widespread tree mortality. Increased wind speed also leads to geographical shifts in damage, both inland and northward, into heavily forested regions that have traditionally been less affected by hurricanes.

“If we are going to rely on forest carbon as a primary tool to mitigate climate change—which seems to be the dominant direction that policies and voluntary/compulsory carbon markets are going in—we have to adequately account for the risks to this forest carbon from disturbances,” said corresponding author Shersingh Joseph Tumber-Dávila, PhD, of Dartmouth College and Harvard Forest. "We show that current carbon market policies are incredibly insufficiently buffered against these risks, with a single hurricane having the capacity to emit the equivalent of 10+ years of carbon sequestration from New England forests. To put this in perspective, currently in California's regulatory carbon market (the largest in the US), less than 3% of carbon credits are set aside to mitigate catastrophic risks. Any storm is likely to deplete what is set aside for risks over 100 years."

URL upon publication: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.17259

 

Additional Information
NOTE: The information contained in this release is protected by copyright. Please include journal attribution in all coverage. For more information or to obtain a PDF of any study, please contact: Sara Henning-Stout, newsroom@wiley.com.

About the Journal
Global Change Biology is an environmental change journal dedicated to shaping the future and solving the world’s most challenging problems by tackling sustainability, climate change and environmental protection, food and water safety and provision, as well as global health.

About Wiley
Wiley is a knowledge company and a global leader in research, publishing, and knowledge solutions. Dedicated to the creation and application of knowledge, Wiley serves the world’s researchers, learners, innovators, and leaders, helping them achieve their goals and solve the world's most important challenges. For more than two centuries, Wiley has been delivering on its timeless mission to unlock human potential. Visit us at Wiley.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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[Press-News.org] Will future hurricanes compromise New England forests’ ability to store and sequester carbon?