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Historic Simulation of Net Ecosystem Carbon Balance for the Great Dismal Swamp

January 25, 2017

Estimating ecosystem carbon (C) balance relative to natural disturbances and land management strengthens our understanding of the benefits and tradeoffs of carbon sequestration. We conducted a historic model simulation of net ecosystem C balance in the Great Dismal Swamp, VA. for the 30-year time period of 1985-2015. The historic simulation of annual carbon flux was calculated with the Land Use and Carbon Scenario Simulator (LUCAS) model. The LUCAS model utilizes a state-and-transition simulation model coupled with a carbon stock-flow accounting model to estimate net ecosystem C balance, and long term sequestration rates under various ecological conditions and management strategies. The historic model simulation uses age-structured forest growth curves for four forest species, C stock and flow rates for 8 pools and 14 fluxes, and known data for disturbance and management. The annualized results of C biomass are provided in this data release in the following categories: Growth, Heterotrophic Respiration (Rh), Net Ecosystem Production (NEP), Net Biome Production (NBP), Below-ground Biomass (BGB) Stock, Above-ground Biomass (AGB) Stock, AGB Carbon Loss from Fire, BGB Carbon Loss from Fire, Deadwood Carbon Loss from Management, and Total Carbon Loss. The table also includes the area (annually) of each forest type in hectares: Atlantic white cedar Area (hectares); Cypress-gum Area (hectares); Maple-gum Area (hectares); Pond pine Area (hectares). Net ecosystem production for the Great Dismal Swamp (~ 54,000 ha), from 1985 to 2015 was estimated to be a net sink of 0.97 Tg C. When the hurricane and six historic fire events were modeled, the Great Dismal Swamp became a net source of 0.89 Tg C. The cumulative above and belowground C loss estimated from the South One in 2008 and Lateral West fire in 2011 totaled 1.70 Tg C, while management activities removed an additional 0.01 Tg C. The C loss in below-ground biomass alone totaled 1.38 Tg C, with the balance (0.31 Tg C) coming from above-ground biomass and detritus. The LUCAS model is free and available to download (see source metadata) and can be used for multiple spatial and temporal scales. For detailed information about the methodology and input parameters, please refer to the journal article, Sleeter, R., Sleeter, B., Williams, B., Hogan, D., Hawbaker, T., Zhu Z., 2017, A Carbon Balance Model for the Great Dismal Swamp Ecosystem, Carbon Balance and Management xxxx.