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National Assessment of Ecosystem Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes


LandCarbon is a national assessment focusing on two interrelated objectives: 1) implementation of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, Section 712; and 2) improved understanding of carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas fluxes in and out of ecosystems related to land use, using scientific capabilities from USGS and other organizations. The assessment covers all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, is conducted for all fifty states, provides estimates of baseline as well as future potential carbon storage and greenhouse gas fluxes, and conducts analysis of effects of major natural and anthropogenic processes that impact ecosystem carbon storage and greenhouse gas fluxes. Major natural and anthropogenic processes include climate change, wildfire, land use change, and land management activities.

In November 2010, the USGS produced an assessment methodology. The methodology was broadly reviewed by the science community and received comments from the general public. Click here to view or download the full report.

The integrated assessment relies on existing data collected by various national inventory, monitoring, and remote sensing programs. The assessment uses an interdisciplinary approach, including remote sensing, land change studies, biogeochemical modeling, mapping of wildfires, wetland ecology, aquatic studies and hydrological modeling. The assessment is conducted at a regional scale: scenarios, model parameterization, analyses, uncertainty estimates, as well as progress tracking and reporting of assessment results are all conducted using EPA’s level II ecoregions.

Major assessment deliverables are scientific papers and synthesis reports documenting methods used for the assessment and key findings. Assessment products are digital maps and tabular datasets depicting temporal and spatial distributions of carbon sequestration and net greenhouse gas fluxes in different pools and ecosystems. The USGS project team will release these data products to the public (available at this web site).

Land Use and Land Cover Scenarios:

Regionally unique land use and land management scenarios are developed consistent to IPCC emission storylines. The regional scenarios are useful for providing a range of possible future distributions of land resources to assess the effects of natural and anthropogenic processes on carbon sequestration capacities, vulnerability of carbon storages, and greenhouse gas fluxes. Learn more ...

Spatially Explicit Modeling of Land Use and Land Cover:

Remote sensing is used to map existing land use and land cover and to detect changes. Dynamic modeling is used to project future potential land use and land cover changes. These digital maps are foundation of the assessment. Learn more ...

Wildland Fire:

Major ecosystem disturbances, such as wildfires, play a major role in determining the fate of carbon storage. In addition, effects of wildfire management are also a part of the assessment. Learn more ...

Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon Storage and Greenhouse Fluxes

The scope of the assessment includes all major terrestrial ecosystems of the United States: forests, shrub and grasslands, croplands, and wetlands. For this assessment, boundaries of the ecosystems are defined by land use and land cover (LULC) classes of the USGS National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD). Baseline (current) distributions of the terrestrial ecosystems are obtained by collapsing NLCD classes. Future potential ecosystem distributions are modeled spatially, using a set of LULC scenarios (see the page on LULC scenarios). These datasets of the current and future potential LULC serve as the foundation on which carbon storage, sequestration, and greenhouse gas fluxes are estimated using biogeochemical models. Learn more ...

Aquatic Systems:

Riverine transport of greenhouse gases from terrestrial ecosystems to freshwater water bodies and oceans is a key part of the assessment. Learn more ...

Ecosystem Carbon and Greenhouse Gas Modeling:

This assessment relies on ensemble modeling of both process-based and spreadsheet-based biogeochemical models to produce estimates of carbon storage, productivity, and greenhouse gas fluxes. The results are derived as both GIS maps and tabular data. Learn more ...

Understanding Uncertainties:

The assessment will estimate uncertainties related to data and models, and communicate about uncertainties related to scenarios. Learn more ...

Project Lead: Dr. Zhiliang Zhu

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Page Last Modified: Friday, October 21, 2011