Measuring potential for carbon storage in US lands

Sponsored by

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 13, 2010 -- A new methodology to assess the potential to store carbon in U.S. wetlands, forests and rangelands ecosystems--and thus to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere -- will help find ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change, the Department of the Interior announced today.

"This new research by scientists from Interior's U.S. Geological Survey is a cutting-edge development that will inform land management policies and planning for the long-term storage of carbon to help lessen the impacts of climate change," Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes said today. "This innovative initiative, which Congress called on Interior to undertake in 2007 energy legislation and which Secretary Salazar outlined at the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, will improve the nation's understanding of amounts, sources, and transport of carbon at scales suitable for use by land managers and decisionmakers."

"Using this methodology, the USGS will now be able to conduct a national assessment to determine how much carbon is being stored in ecosystems and to estimate the capability to use natural systems -- such as wetlands, forests and rangelands -- to absorb greenhouse gases. The assessment will be conducted on a regional basis," said USGS scientist Zhiliang Zhu.

The process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in vegetation, soils and aquatic environments is known as biological carbon sequestration. The movement of greenhouse gases in ecosystems results from natural ecosystem processes and human activities. This assessment accounts for three gases, which are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).

As part of the national assessment, USGS scientists are evaluating major processes that affect carbon sequestration capability and greenhouse gas emissions. Those processes include climate change, changes in land use and land cover, changes in land management activities, and ecosystem disturbances such as wildfires.

This methodology incorporates public comments that were solicited on a draft methodology published in July 2010. It also builds upon the USGS rapid assessment report published in December 2009 to estimate the carbon storage potential in the nation's forests and soils. The new methodology focuses on all of the nation's ecosystems and incorporates data and methods (including land use and biogeochemical models and aquatic models) that were updated since the rapid assessment was published. This methodology also incorporates suggestions from an interagency science panel, an extensive peer-review process and comments from other federal agencies.

In addition, 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 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.

The methodology was developed in accordance with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which directed the Department of the Interior to develop the methodology and conduct the national assessment. This research also benefited from discussions with a variety of organizations and stakeholders, such as the Department of Agriculture (particularly the U.S. Forest Service) and Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the science community.

For more information about this assessment methodology, visit


Sponsored by

Did You Like this Article? Get All the Water Industry News Delivered to Your Inbox or Mailbox

Subscribe to one of our magazines or email newsletters today at no cost and receive the latest information.


Texas water orgs partner to build Water Innovation Clearinghouse, Demonstration Hubs

The Texas Desalination Association and AccelerateH2O have partnered to implement innovative water supply solutions. The Texas Water Innovation Clearinghouse will expedite knowledge-sharing, problem-solving and access to resources and the formation of collaborations.

American Water participates in 'Imagine a Day Without Water' event

American Water announced its participation in the Value of Water Coalition's national advocacy and educational event, "Imagine a Day Without Water."

EPA awards $10M, five-year grant for Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that it has awarded a $10-million, five-year grant to Central Michigan University to continue implementation of its Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program.

WERF honors Texas water reclamation facility with Award for Excellence in Innovation

The Water Environment Research Foundation has recognized the City of Fort Worth's Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility with its Award for Excellence in Innovation for its use of WERF research to guide the implementation of a series of sustainable facility upgrades.




© 2015. PennWell Corporation. All Rights Reserved. PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS