Estimating the global carbon sink due to forest demography

Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests online seminar followed by Q&A – all welcome

The carbon sink across the world’s forests is driven not just by changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration and climate, but also by the effects of past disturbances and land-use change on forest age structure. An age structure out of sync with current rates of forest disturbance can lead to a sink or source of carbon. Tom will describe his group’s recent efforts to combine different sources of data on forest stand age with dynamic vegetation modelling to estimate the demographically-driven carbon sink across global forests. These estimates suggest that about a quarter of the forest carbon sink is demographically-driven. He will explore the extent to which natural or anthropogenic drivers are likely to be behind this sink and discuss several major uncertainties and challenges.

Tom Pugh is Reader in Biosphere-Atmosphere Exchange at the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research. After completing a PhD at Lancaster University on the atmospheric chemistry above Bornean rainforests, he gravitated towards working to understand forests themselves, working as a postdoc at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, with a focus on modelling the influence of the land surface on the global carbon cycle. In 2016 he moved to the University of Birmingham, where his work, and that of his research group, seeks to further unpick the interactions between terrestrial vegetation and the atmosphere with an especial focus on tree mortality and environmental stresses.