Carbon Flux Data for U.S. Forests Now Available

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“NBCD2000 will provide an invaluable baseline for quantifying the
carbon stock in U.S. forests and will improve current methods of
assessing the carbon flux between forests and the atmosphere.”

“The data sets that are now available should be of interest to
natural resource managers across the U.S. For the first time, high
resolution estimates of vegetation canopy height and biomass are
being produced consistently for the entire conterminous U.S.”
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Public release date: 14-Feb-2008
Woods Hole Research Center

Contact: Elizabeth Braun
ebraun@whrc.org
508-540-9900

First datasets for national biomass and carbon dataset now available

Scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center working to produce the
“National Biomass and Carbon Dataset” for the year 2000 (NBCD2000)
are releasing data from nine project mapping zones. All NBCD2000 data
products are being made available for download on a zone-by-zone
basis and free of charge from the NBCD2000 project website located at
www.whrc.org/nbcd.

Through a combination of NASA satellite datasets, topographic survey
data, land use/land cover information, and extensive forest inventory
data collected by the USDA Forest Service – Forest Inventory and
Analysis Program (FIA), NBCD2000 will provide an invaluable baseline
for quantifying the carbon stock in U.S. forests and will improve
current methods of assessing the carbon flux between forests and the
atmosphere.

According to Dr. Josef Kellndorfer, an associate scientist at the
Center and project leader, “The availability of a high resolution
dataset containing estimates of forest biomass and associated carbon
stock is an important step forward in enabling researchers to better
understand the North American carbon balance.”

As part of the NBCD2000 initiative, begun in 2005 and funded by
NASA’s Earth Science Program with additional support from the
USGS/LANDFIRE, mapping is being conducted within 67 ecologically
diverse regions, termed “mapping zones”, which span the conterminous
United States. Of the nine completed zones, 5 were finished during a
2-year pilot phase. Work on the remaining zones will be completed at
a rate of roughly one zone every seven days. The project is scheduled
for completion in early 2009.

Wayne Walker, a research associate at the Center who is also working
on the project adds, “The data sets that are now available should be
of interest to natural resource managers across the U.S. For the
first time, high resolution estimates of vegetation canopy height and
biomass are being produced consistently for the entire conterminous
U.S.”

Within each mapping zone data from the 2000 Shuttle Radar Topography
Mission are combined with topographic survey data from the National
Elevation Dataset (NED) to produce a radar-based map of vegetation
canopy height. Subsequently, the map is used to generate estimates of
actual vegetation height, biomass, and carbon stock using survey data
from the U.S. Forest Service – FIA program and ancillary data sets
from the National Land Cover Database 2001 (NLCD2001) project. The
NLCD2001 data layers are crucial inputs to the NBCD2000 project as
they provide land cover and canopy density information used in the
stratification/calibration process.

Diane Wickland, the program manager for NASA’s Terrestrial Ecology
Program, comments,

“Because this is the first systematic, regional-scale study that uses
radar data to quantify carbon storage in vegetation, the end result
will not only provide valuable information on how well we can do with
existing data, but will allow us to see how we might improve and
refine requirements for future, more capable missions like DESDynI,
which has been recommended by the National Research Council Decadal
Survey on Earth Observation.”

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The project website will be updated regularly as mapping zones are completed.

The Woods Hole Research Center is dedicated to science, education and
public policy for a habitable Earth, seeking to conserve and sustain
forests, soils, water, and energy by demonstrating their value to
human health and economic prosperity. The Center has initiatives in
the Amazon, the Arctic, Africa, Russia, Asia, Boreal North America,
the Mid-Atlantic, and New England including Cape Cod. Center programs
focus on the global carbon cycle, forest function, landcover/land
use, water cycles and chemicals in the environment, science in public
affairs, and education, providing primary data and enabling better
appraisals of the trends in forests.

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