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Summer Research Project 2021

  • Title: Forest Carbon Sequestration Sub-project 1. Land use impacts on forest carbon
  • Group Project Leader: Jonathan Thompson
  • Mentors: Meghan Blumstein; Emma Conrad-Rooney; Josh Plisinski; Mayra Rodriguez Gonzalez; Pamela Templer; Jonathan Thompson
  • Collaborators: David Basler; Danelle Laflower
  • Project Description:

    This is part of the group project 'Forest Carbon Sequestration: Effects of land use change, atmospheric deposition, and genetic variation,' which has the overarching theme of controls on carbon sequestration in the Northeast.

    • What is the potential contribution of land use and management practices toward increasing forest carbon sequestration to achieve greenhouse gas mitigation goals within forests of New England?
    • Do atmospheric inputs of multiple elements, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and cations (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium) affect rates of carbon sequestration in mixed temperate and northern hardwood forests of New England and other forested sites around the U.S.?
    • To what extent is seasonal timing of leaf-out in oaks under genetic control, and how can this knowledge inform genomic rescue programs to help trees to adapt to a warming world?


    Sub-project I – Land use impacts on forest carbon (1 student; Mentors: Jonathan Thompson and Josh Plisinski)

    Background: Increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere is the primary driver of global climate change. Terrestrial carbon, cycled through soil and vegetation, plays a key role in regulating the climate system. Forest ecosystems, in particular, serve as a critical carbon sink—as forests grow, they sequester atmospheric CO2 and store it as terrestrial carbon—collectively storing an equivalent of as much as 30 percent of global fossil fuel emissions each year. The strength of the forest carbon sink is variable and strongly influenced by the rate, pattern, and intensity of land-use and land-cover (LULC) change. Strategies to mitigate climate change must consider the impacts of LULC change on terrestrial carbon.

    Objective: This sub-project will examine the relative effectiveness of multiple land use and forest management strategies to mitigate climate change by increasing forest carbon sequestration.

    Approach: The REU student will review peer review and policy documents to inventory the range of land-use policies and forest management approaches used to reduce LULC related carbon emissions. The student will also analyze data from the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program and use a landscape simulation framework (Dinamica Ego/Landis-II/PnET) to assess the potential for alternative strategies to increase forest carbon stores in New England.

    Typical Week:
    - Student will participate in dedicated weekly meetings and bi-weekly journal club
    - Student will join Thompson Lab meetings (MWTh at 930 Eastern)
    - All students in the group will meet at least weekly for peer-to-peer networking and mentoring
    - Student will have weekly project goals starting with reading and reviewing literature then including analysis of FIA and running simple simulation experiments

  • Readings:

    Decina SM, PH Templer, and LR Hutyra. 2018. Atmospheric inputs of nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorus across an urban area: unaccounted fluxes and canopy influences. Earth's Future 6:134-148.

    Duveneck, M. J. and J. R. Thompson. 2019. Social and biophysical determinants of future forest conditions in New England: Effects of a modern land-use regime. Global Environmental Change 55:115-129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.01.009

    Finzi, A. C., Giasson, M.-A., Barker Plotkin, A., Aber, J. D., Boose, E. R., Davidson, E. A., Dietze, M. C., Ellison, A. M., Frey, S. D., Goldman, E., Keenan, T. F., Melillo, J. M., Munger, J. W., Nadelhoffer, K. J., Ollinger, S. V., Orwig, D. A., Pederson, N., Richardson, A. D., Savage, K., Tang, J., Thompson, J. R., Williams, C. A., Wofsy, S. C., Zhou, Z., Foster, D. R. 2020. Carbon budget of the Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research site: pattern, process, and response to global change. Ecological Monographs 10.1002/ECM.1423: 95 pp

    Groffman PM, CT Driscoll, J Duran, JL Campbell, LM Christenson, TJ Fahey, MC Fisk, C Fuss, GE Likens, G Lovett, L Rustad, PH Templer. 2018. Nitrogen oligotrophication in northern hardwood forests. Biogeochemistry 141:523-539.

    Reinmann AB, J Susser, EMC Demaria, PH Templer. 2019. Declines in northern forest tree growth following snowpack decline and soil freezing. Global Change Biology 25:420-430.

  • Research Category: Regional Studies, Group Projects, Forest-Atmosphere Exchange, Conservation and Management