The temperate forests of North America may play an important role in future carbon (C) sequestration strategies. New, multiyear, ecosystem-scale C cycling studies are providing a process-level understanding of the factors controlling annual forest C storage. Using a combination of ecological and meteorological methods, we quantified the response of annual C storage to historically widespread disturbances, forest succession, and climate variation in a common forest type of the upper Great Lakes region. At our study site in Michigan, repeated clear-cut harvesting and fire disturbance resulted in a lasting decrease in annual forest C storage. However, climate variation exerts a strong control on C storage as well, and future climate change may substantially reduce annual C storage by these forests. Annual C storage varies through ecological succession by rising to a maximum and then slowly declining in old-growth stands. Effective forest C sequestration requires the management of all C pools, including traditionally managed pools such as bole wood and also harvest residues and soils.
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Vol. 58 • No. 7