Projected changes in terrestrial carbon storage in Europe under climate and land-use change, 1990-2100

Sönke Zaehle*, Alberte Bondeau, Timothy R. Carter, Wolfgang Cramer, Markus Erhard, I. Colin Prentice, I. Reginster, Mark D A Rounsevell, Stephen Sitch, Benjamin Smith, Pascalle C. Smith, Martin Sykes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Citations (Scopus)


Changes in climate and land use, caused by socio-economic changes, greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural policies and other factors, are known to affect both natural and managed ecosystems, and will likely impact on the European terrestrial carbon balance during the coming decades. This study presents a comprehensive European Union wide (EU15 plus Norway and Switzerland, EU*) assessment of potential future changes in terrestrial carbon storage considering these effects based on four illustrative IPCC-SRES storylines (A1FI, A2, B1, B2). A process-based land vegetation model (LPJ-DGVM), adapted to include a generic representation of managed ecosystems, is forced with changing fields of land-use patterns from 1901 to 2100 to assess the effect of land-use and cover changes on the terrestrial carbon balance of Europe. The uncertainty in the future carbon balance associated with the choice of a climate change scenario is assessed by forcing LPJ-DGVM with output from four different climate models (GCMs: CGCM2, CSIRO2, HadCM3, PCM2) for the same SRES storyline. Decrease in agricultural areas and afforestation leads to simulated carbon sequestration for all land-use change scenarios with an average net uptake of 17-38 Tg C/year between 1990 and 2100, corresponding to 1.9-2.9% of the EU*s CO2 emissions over the same period. Soil carbon losses resulting from climate warming reduce or even offset carbon sequestration resulting from growth enhancement induced by climate change and increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the second half of the twenty-first century. Differences in future climate change projections among GCMs are the main cause for uncertainty in the cumulative European terrestrial carbon uptake of 4.4-10.1 Pg C between 1990 and 2100.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-401
Number of pages22
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • Land-use change
  • SRES-scenarios
  • Terrestrial carbon balance


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