Curtis said the concept of using forests to store carbon has steadily gained attention among policymakers, especially since the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 as a global program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Curtis is a believer in approaching carbon dioxide stabilization in the atmosphere through what he calls "small wedge" efforts.
"Biological carbon storage, mostly in forests, is one of those little wedges along with other ones you might think of, such as increased energy efficiency, using fluorescent light bulbs and the like. There is not one silver bullet," he said.
Effective use of forests for carbon storage requires knowing more than current storage statistics, he noted. Curtis and colleagues also have outlined historic factors that offer clues about what forests can be expected to store and release over future decades.
The research team conducted the measurements at the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS). The composition of this small forested region is representative of the forests stretching about 40,000 square miles the equivalent of the land mass of Ohio across the entire upper Midwest.
Most carbon in the UMBS forest is contained in the wood mass and soil organic matter which, Curtis said, points to the importance of considering underground carbon reservoirs in carbon budgeting. Stem wood, leaves and debris contain about 42 percent of carbon in the forest.
The storage assessments for the past five years resulted from combining ecological and meteorological measurements at the Michigan forest site. Ecological estimates are bas
|Contact: Peter Curtis|
Ohio State University