Past and future carbon fluxes from land use change, shifting cultivation and wood harvest


Carbon emissions from anthropogenic land use (LU) and land use change (LUC) are quantified with a Dynamic Global Vegetation Model for the past and the 21st century following Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). Wood harvesting and parallel abandonment and expansion of agricultural land in areas of shifting cultivation are explicitly simulated (gross LUC) based on the Land Use Harmonization (LUH) dataset and a proposed alternative method that relies on minimum input data and generically accounts for gross LUC. Cumulative global LUC emissions are 72 GtC by 1850 and 243 GtC by 2004 and 27–151 GtC for the next 95 yr following the different RCP scenarios. The alternative method reproduces results based on LUH data with full transition information within <0.1 GtC/yr over the last decades and bears potential for applications in combination with other LU scenarios. In the last decade, shifting cultivation and wood harvest within remaining forests including slash each contributed 19% to the mean annual emissions of 1.2 GtC/yr. These factors, in combination with amplification effects under elevated CO2, contribute substantially to future emissions from LUC in all RCPs.Keywords: land use change, carbon cycle, carbon budget, wood harvest, shifting cultivation, terrestrial carbon sink(Published: 3 June 2014)Citation: Tellus B 2014, 66, 23188,

Tellus B
Benjamin Stocker
Benjamin Stocker
Group leader, Prof.

Heliocentrist human being.