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Paul Selmants

Ecosystem carbon balance in the Hawaiian Islands under different scenarios of land use and climate change


The State of Hawaiʻi recently passed legislation setting a goal to be carbon neutral by 2045. Meeting this goal will partly depend on carbon sequestration by terrestrial ecosystems, yet the future direction and magnitude of the land carbon sink in the Hawaiian Islands is highly uncertain. We used simulation modeling to assess how projected future changes in climate and land use will influence ecosystem carbon balance in the Hawaiian Islands under four unique scenarios over a 100-year timespan. Net ecosystem carbon balance declined under all four scenarios. Moving from a high to a low radiative forcing scenario reduced net ecosystem carbon loss by ~21%, and net carbon losses were reduced by a total of ~55% under the combined scenario of low radiative forcing and low rates of land‐use change. The CO2 fertilization effect on ecosystem carbon balance emerged as a major source of uncertainty that needs to be reconciled to better constrain models used to evaluate the effectiveness of ecosystem‐based climate mitigation strategies.


         Paul Selmants is a terrestrial ecosystem scientist working for the US Geological Survey. He uses data synthesis, remote sensing, and simulation modeling to assess how human activities influence ecosystem carbon balance. Paul received his Ph.D. in Forest Science at Northern Arizona University in 2007. He then spent three years as a Postdoctoral Scholar at University of California, Santa Cruz and five years as Research Faculty at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manōa. He now lives in San Francisco.