Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

U.S. forests and soils store equivalent of 50 years of nation's CO2 emissions, new estimates find

Date:
December 11, 2009
Source:
United States Geological Survey
Summary:
The first phase of a groundbreaking national assessment estimates that US forests and soils could remove additional quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as a means to mitigate climate change.

The first phase of a groundbreaking national assessment estimates that U.S. forests and soils could remove additional quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere as a means to mitigate climate change.

Related Articles


The lower 48 states in the U.S. hypothetically have the potential to store an additional 3-7 billion metric tons of carbon in forests, if agricultural lands were to be used for planting forests. This potential is equivalent to 2 to 4 years of America's current CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels.

"Carbon pollution is putting our world -- and our way of life -- in peril," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in a keynote speech at the global conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark. "By restoring ecosystems and protecting certain areas from development, the U.S. can store more carbon in ways that enhance our stewardship of land and natural resources while reducing our contribution to global warming."

U.S. Geological Survey scientists also found that the conterminous U.S. presently stores 73 billion metric tons of carbon in soils and 17 billion metric tons in forests. This is equivalent to more than 50 years of America's current CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. This shows the need to protect existing carbon stores to prevent additional warming and future harm to ecosystems.

America's forests and soils are currently insufficient in soaking up the nation's accelerating pace of emissions. They currently absorb about 30 percent (0.5 billion metric tons of carbon) of the nation's fossil fuel emissions per year (1.6 billion metric tons of carbon). Enhancing the carbon storage capacity of America's and the world's ecosystems is an important tool to reduce carbon emissions and help ecosystems adapt to changing climate conditions.

"The tools the USGS is developing -- and the technologies behind those tools -- will be of great use to communities around the world that are making management decisions on carbon storage," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "The USGS is conducting a national assessment of biologic carbon sequestration, as well as an assessment of ecosystem carbon and greenhouse gas fluxes, which will help determine how we can reduce atmospheric CO2 levels while preserving other ecological functions."

To determine how much more carbon could be stored in forests and soils, USGS scientists analyzed maps that represent historical vegetation cover before human alterations, as well as maps of vegetation that might occur if there were no natural disturbances, such as fires, pests and drought. These maps were compared to maps of current vegetation and carbon storage.

The next phase of this work will assess the additional amount of carbon stored in Alaska's ecosystems, including its soils and forests. The USGS plans to collaborate with U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies to examine potential carbon storage in soils.

The USGS is conducting research on a number of other fronts related to carbon sequestration. These efforts include evaluating the potential for storing carbon dioxide in geologic formations below the Earth's surface, potential release of greenhouse gases from Arctic soils and permafrost, and mapping the distribution of rocks suitable for potential mineral sequestration efforts.

For more information about this assessment, visit http://pubs.usgs.gov/ofr/2009/1283.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by United States Geological Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

United States Geological Survey. "U.S. forests and soils store equivalent of 50 years of nation's CO2 emissions, new estimates find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091210173613.htm>.
United States Geological Survey. (2009, December 11). U.S. forests and soils store equivalent of 50 years of nation's CO2 emissions, new estimates find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091210173613.htm
United States Geological Survey. "U.S. forests and soils store equivalent of 50 years of nation's CO2 emissions, new estimates find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091210173613.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 28, 2015) Heavy rain and flooding sweep through parts of Bolivia causing damage and leaves more than 2,000 people homeless. Sophia Soo reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

AFP (Feb. 27, 2015) More than 200 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall in Afghanistan. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 27, 2015) The presidents of France and the Philippines issue a joint appeal for a binding agreement on climate change. Katie Sargent reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins