Conclusions

The terrestrial biosphere is a dynamic component of the global carbon cycle. This fact is clearly evident from the seasonal and annual fluctuations in Ca that are caused by changes in the balance between photosynthesis and respiration on a global scale. That much of the terrestrial biosphere has been sequestering carbon in living biomass during the recent past, thereby mitigating against the rise in Ca, suggests that terrestrial ecosystems could buffer us from the worst effects of global change. However, as highlighted in this chapter, there remain major uncertainties in our understanding of the factors that have driven historical, are driving current, and will drive future, changes in carbon sequestration by terrestrial vegetation. The imperative for the development of new and existing policy initiatives to stabilize Ca requires continued experimentation across the broad spectrum of terrestrial carbon cycle research to reduce these uncertainties.

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