Joint Seminar: About planting trees and killing forests

Planting trees in large-scale biomass plantations is generally seen as a ‘green’ form of climate engineering therefore used in many mitigation scenarios aiming at 2°C in 2100: Fast growing tree and grass species take up CO2 from the atmosphere and, combined with carbon conversion chains of the harvested biomass, efficiently decrease atmospheric CO2 concentrations. But it is not that simple. I used a biosphere model (LPJmL) to investigate the upper and lower limits of this terrestrial carbon dioxide removal (tCDR) strategy under different emission and land-use assumptions. It turns out that the potentials of these highly managed plantations are rather limited (10-100 GtC by 2100) if we want to avoid negative side-effects for human well-being, biodiversity and climate itself.

Severe heat waves and droughts have already lead to forest die backs in the past and the expected increases in intensity and frequency of these events under climate change could amplify forest mortality. However, this process of turning a land carbon sink into a potential source is not well represented in most current land surface models of ESMs. I now work on implementing forest mortality to heat and water stress in JSBACH – to investigate if we might need even more tCDR to mitigate climate change. 




15:15 h


Bundesstr. 53, room 022/023
Seminar Room 022/023, Ground Floor, Bundesstrasse 53, 20146 Hamburg, Hamburg


Lena Boysen, MPI-M


Guidi Zhou
Karsten Peters

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