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Comparison of soil CO₂ flux between uncleared and cleared windthrow areas in Estonia and Latvia
- Köster, Kajar, Püttsepp, Ülle, Pumpanen, Jukka
- Forest ecology and management 2011 v.262 no.2 pp. 65-70
- canopy, wind, windthrow, organic matter, mineral soils, wood, dead wood, Picea abies, forest stands, carbon, carbon sinks, forest regeneration, summer, trees, storms, forests, Estonia, Latvia
- Storms can turn a great proportion of forests’ assimilation capacity into dead organic matter because of windthrow and thus its role as a carbon sink will be diminished for some time. However, little is known about the magnitude or extent to which storms affect carbon efflux. We compared soil CO₂ fluxes in wind-thrown forest stands with different time periods since a storm event, and with different management practices (deadwood cleared or left on-site). This study examined changes in soil CO₂ efflux in two windthrow areas in north-eastern Estonia and one area in north-western Latvia, which experienced severe wind storms in the summers of 2001, 2002 and 1967, respectively. We measured soil CO₂ fluxes in stands formerly dominated by Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.) with total and partial canopy destruction (all trees or roughly half of the trees in stand damaged by storm), in harvested areas (material removed after the wind storm) and in control areas (no damage by wind). Removal of wind-damaged material decreased instantaneous CO₂ flux from the soil surface. The highest instantaneous fluxes were measured in areas with total and partial canopy destruction (0.67gCO₂m⁻²h⁻¹ in both cases) compared with fluxes in the control areas (0.51gCO₂m⁻²h⁻¹), in the new storm-damaged areas where the material was removed (0.57gCO₂m⁻²h⁻¹) and in the old storm-damaged area where wood was left on site (0.55gCO₂m⁻²h⁻¹). The only factor affecting soil CO₂ flux was location of the measuring collar (plastic collar with diameter 100mm, height 50mm) – either on undamaged forest ground or on the uprooted tree pit, where the mineral soil was exposed after disturbance. New wind-thrown stands where residues are left on site would most likely turn to sources of CO₂ for several years until forest regeneration reaches to substantial assimilation rates. New wind-thrown stands where residues are left on site would most likely tend to have elevated CO₂ fluxes for several years until forest regeneration reaches to substantial assimilation rates. However, forest managers might be concerned about the amounts of CO₂ immediately released into the atmosphere if the harvested logs are burned.