Carbon and Energy Balance of Dry Mediterranean Pine Forests: A Case Study

Eyal Rotenberg, Rafat Qubaja, Yakir Preisler, Dan Yakir, Fyodor Tatarinov

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The chapter describes a long-term (2000–2019) perspective of carbon and energy fluxes from the leaf to the whole ecosystem scale in a semi-arid Aleppo pine forest plantation (the Yatir Forest) in the northern edge of the Negev desert (Israel), using the eddy covariance approach combined with meteorological and supplemental small-scale measurements. The site is characterized by a long dry season (over 7 months) with mean annual precipitation of 285 mm. The forest was a carbon sink during the wet season from December to April, reaching a maximum Net Ecosystem Production (NEP) rate of 4 gC m−2 d−1 in March, and a carbon source in June–October, with a mean summer value of ~ −1 gC m−2 d−1. The carbon inventory showed that during 2001–2016 Yatir Forest accumulated 145 ± 26 gC m−2 year−1, ~71% of which was stored in the soil. By sequestering carbon, the forest has a cooling effect on the earth’s surface. The solar radiation burden over the forest was high, with an annual average flux of 240 Wm−2, while the forest albedo (the reflected solar radiation) was 0.12 and significantly lower than that of the surrounding desert, which was 0.25. Heat exchange with the atmosphere was characterized by high sensible heat flux (H) representing 50–90% of the net absorbed radiation flux (Rn). The net absorbed Rn by the forest ecosystem was 67% higher than in the surrounding desert; the additional absorbed radiation has a warming effect on the surface. Our campaign-based measurements in another Aleppo pine forest in northern Israel with 755 mm annual precipitation (the Birya Forest, 190 Km north of Yatir) showed that this forest was a carbon sink both in the wet and dry seasons with mean NEP ~5 and ~3 gC m−2 d−1, respectively. The vegetation in the ecosystems around Birya Forest was much more developed than the desert vegetation in Yatir, thus the albedo effect and the thermal radiation suppression were lower. The net radiation load difference between Birya Forest and its surroundings was one-third lower than between Yatir and its surrounding desert. This case study show that pine forests can adjust to conditions at the dry, semi-arid, timberline and store significant amounts of carbon below ground with long residence time. Its large effects on the surface energy budget can result with local warming, but this can change considerably across relatively small geographical scale.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPines and Their Mixed Forest Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Basin
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783030636258
StatePublished - 13 Oct 2021

Publication series

NameManaging Forest Ecosystems


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