Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

The contribution of reactive carbon emissions from vegetation to the carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems.

  • Author(s): Guenther, Alex
  • et al.

About 2.4 Pg (1 Pg = 10(15) g) of carbon is emitted annually into the atmosphere as reactive compounds and most of it is eventually oxidized to CO2. Isoprene, alpha-pinene, methanol, carbon monoxide and other compounds emitted by terrestrial vegetation contribute about half of the total flux and are estimated to produce about 1 Pg C as CO2 per year. The global average for vegetated surfaces is about 7 g C m(-2) per year but could exceed 100 g m(-2) per year at some tropical locations. The magnitude of these fluxes on both the landscape and global scales are small relative to the total carbon emission or deposition but are significant relative to the net fluxes. Reactive carbon fluxes are very sensitive to landcover and climate change and may vary significantly due to future perturbations. This paper summarizes what is known about reactive carbon emissions from vegetation including the magnitude of local, landscape, and global scale fluxes and their contribution to atmospheric CO2. Reasons for including this term in carbon flux models are presented as well as the potential importance on various spatial scales. Past, present and future reactive carbon emissions are expected to differ significantly and the implications of this are discussed.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View