Characteristics of the Biosphere Carbon Balance

The terrestrial biosphere is a dynamic system with inherently long periods of slow buildup of biomass (where respiration is less than gross uptake) followed by short periods of large breakdown. The whole system thus fluctuates around an equilibrium, at which gross uptake of carbon is compensated by autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration. Rarely is an ecosystem ever in equilibrium, except at large scales and over long time periods. At a large scale, the system is composed of many local sources and sinks. Thus, the temporal variation in sinks and sources of a small ecosystem through time can be recognized at one point in time as the spatial distribution of the sinks and sources

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