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Simulated dynamics of carbon stocks driven by changes in land use, management and climate in a tropical moist ecosystem of Ghana

Tan, Zhengxi, Liu, Shuguang, Tieszen, Larry L., Tachie-Obeng, Emmanuel
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2009 v.130 no.3-4 pp. 171-176
land use, vegetation cover, carbon sequestration, land use change, land management, climate change, tropics, ecosystems, simulation models, nitrogen fertilizers, fertilizer rates, deforestation, soil organic carbon, crop management, Ghana
Sub-Saharan Africa is large and diverse with regions of food insecurity and high vulnerability to climate change. This project quantifies carbon stocks and fluxes in the humid forest zone of Ghana, as a part of an assessment in West Africa. The General Ensemble biogeochemical Modeling System (GEMS) was used to simulate the responses of natural and managed systems to projected scenarios of changes in climate, land use and cover, and nitrogen fertilization in the Assin district of Ghana. Model inputs included historical land use and cover data, historical climate records and projected climate changes, and national management inventories. Our results show that deforestation for crop production led to a loss of soil organic carbon (SOC) by 33% from 1900 to 2000. The results also show that the trend of carbon emissions from cropland in the 20th century will continue through the 21st century and will be increased under the projected warming and drying scenarios. Nitrogen (N) fertilization in agricultural systems could offset SOC loss by 6% with 30kgNha⁻¹ year⁻¹ and by 11% with 60kgNha⁻¹ year⁻¹. To increase N fertilizer input would be one of the vital adaptive measures to ensure food security and maintain agricultural sustainability through the 21st century.