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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Soil moisture controls the partitioning of carbon stocks across a managed boreal forest landscape

Larson, Johannes; Wallerman, Jörgen; Peichl, Matthias; Laudon, Hjalmar


Boreal forests sequester and store vast carbon (C) pools that may be subject to significant feedback effects induced by climatic warming. The boreal landscape consists of a mosaic of forests and peatlands with wide variation in total C stocks, making it important to understand the factors controlling C pool sizes in different ecosystems. We therefore quantified the total C stocks in the organic layer, mineral soil, and tree biomass in 430 plots across a 68 km(2) boreal catchment. The organic layer held the largest C pool, accounting for 39% of the total C storage; tree and mineral C pools accounted for 38% and 23%, respectively. The size of the soil C pool was positively related to modelled soil moisture conditions, especially in the organic soil layer (R-2 = 0.50). Conversely, the tree C pool exhibited a unimodal relationship: storage was highest under intermediate wetness conditions. The magnitude and variation in the total soil C stocks observed in this work were comparable to those found at the national level in Sweden, suggesting that C accumulation in boreal landscapes is more sensitive to local variation resulting primarily from differences in soil moisture conditions than to regional differences in climate, nitrogen deposition, and parent material.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2023, Volume: 13, number: 1, article number: 14909