The MC2 model projects an overall increase in carbon capture in conterminous United States during the 21st century while also simulating a rise in fire causing much carbon loss. Carbon sequestration in soils is critical to prevent carbon losses from future disturbances, and we show that natural ecosystems store more carbon belowground than managed systems do. Natural and human-caused disturbances affect soil processes that shape ecosystem recovery and competitive interactions between native, exotics, and climate refugees. Tomorrow’s carbon budgets will depend on how land use, natural disturbances, and climate variability will interact and affect the balance between carbon capture and release.

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