New science estimates carbon storage potential of US lands

Dec 10, 2009

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.

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.

" 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 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 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 .

"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 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.

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

Source: United States Geological Survey (news : web)

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freethinking
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 10, 2009
To all scientists who are on the AGW take. We know! Climategate has exposed that most of your research is either flawed or corrupt.

Lets stop wasting time and money on a non-existant problem and put our resources to work on solving real problems, problems that we can solve and that will make life better.
NeilFarbstein
3 / 5 (6) Dec 11, 2009
What happened to new Orleans? It was destroyed by 29 foot floods. Some of the people that survived paddled away from their houses in rubber life rafts!!!! Remember???? Idiots like you lied that there was no greenhouse effect on the horizon until the inevitable happened, the dikes and levees broke from lack of reinforcement. The greenhouse people who predicted that the flooding would require new construction were told to be quiet or lose their jobs. So what have idiotic liars like you cost the taxpayers? $600 billion dollars for the reconstruction of New Orleans. That's what started the depression and 13 percent unemployment the nation is currently going through. Stupid dogmatic lies about the greenhouse effect wrecked our economy and directly killed over two thousand people. The effects of further denial will be much worse. Recent reports predict San Francisco is in danger of the same flooding as new Orleans.
defunctdiety
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2009
Idiots like you lied that there was no greenhouse effect

Neil shouldn't you be at nap time? The greenhouse effect is what made life on this planet possible in the first place. Idiots like you have no comprehension of what's going on so you let yourself believe the end is coming and only the govt can save u.

New Orleans is sinking, there is nothing that can be done for it, it is literally a money pit. The city is not sustainable geologically, it's like building on top of a volcano or a fault line and thinking you can save it.

A perfect instance of where we should be adapting to a changing climate instead of trying to change the climate. We know relocation would prevent the inevitable deterioration of the city, whether from sinking or flooding, guaranteed, but instead we are proposing to try and limit our carbon emissions with legislation that does nothing to reduce carbon emissions on the off chance that we might be able to slow the climate from changing for a little bit. Sweet
freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2009
Only an ignorant person, or one who has been brainwashed, believes that a single Hurricane was caused by AGW. Hurricanes were worse 100-200 years ago than they are now. That is a historical FACT that can be checked.

New Orleans was destroyed by corrupt leftist polititions not acting to fix problems that they knew existed (again those are the fact anyone can check). San Francisco will be destroyed by corrupt politions that fail to act now to solve a forseeable problem.