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Evidence is provided for an internal CO2 sink in forest soils, that may have a potential impact on the global CO2-budget. Lowered CO2 fraction in the soil atmosphere, and thus lowered CO2 release to the aboveground atmosphere, is indicated in high N-deposition areas. Also at forest edges, especially of spruce forest, where additional N-deposition has occurred, the soil CO2 is lowered, and the gradient increases into the closed forest. Over the last three decades the capacity of the forest soil to maintain the internal sink process has been limited to a cumulative supply of approximately 1000 and 1500 kg N ha-1. Beyond this limit the internal soil CO2 sink becomes an additional CO2 source, together with nitrogen leaching. This stage of "nitrogen saturation" is still uncommon in closed forests in southern Scandinavia, however, it occurs in exposed forest edges which receive high atmospheric N-deposition. The soil CO2 gradient, which originally increases from the edge towards the closed forest, becomes reversed.
Ambio © 2003 Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences