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Climate Change and...

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Carbon Estimations


The Forest Sector Carbon Calculator is a set of carbon models presented over a web interface that helps users examine how carbon stores in the forest sector change over time. The web interface allows the user to select different regions, past histories of disturbance and management, and alternative futures. Carbon calculations can be done for a single stand or for an entire landscape. Reports and time trend graphs can be generated of carbon stores in the forest, in wood products (including bioenergy), and in disposal (landfill).


Downloadable/exportable presentation-quality figures and spreadsheets.


Web-based interface presenting a set of carbon models


Currently parameterized for western Oregon (USFS Region 6)

Scale (range)

From a single forest stand to 26000 hectares (64247 acres)


Beta-version; undergoing testing.

Training Requirement

1 (on a scale of 1-4). Taking a couple of hours to go through the user manual is highly recommended.

Potential Applications

Decision support for forest managers; forest management and ecology education.

Caveats, Restrictions

Currently only parameterized for western Oregon. Simulation models are not a substitute for actual measurements of carbon stores in a particular stand, landscape, or wood product pool.

The Forest Sector Carbon Calculator

Overview & Applicability

The Forest Sector Carbon Calculator is a tool that helps users understand more about the stock and flow of carbon in forest ecosystems and wood products. The tool is intended to "simulate the accumulation of carbon over succession in a landscape with mixed-species mixed-age forest stands and spatially variable climate, soil, topography, and history." In practical terms, the tool can help land managers, students, and other users compare effects of alternative management practices (including timber harvest, site preparation, fuel treatment, and artificial regeneration) and wildfire regimes on carbon stores and balances in the forest (including vegetation and soil) and in forest products( including landfills and biofuels). The tool models disturbances on annual increments and climate variability on monthly increments. Wildfire regimes have been created based on historical trends.


The beta version of the Forest Sector Carbon Calculator was released in March, 2011. The model is still undergoing beta testing. Future versions are expected to expand the geographic scope of the tool to eastern Oregon, and possibly to other geographic regions as well. The tool can be customized to other forest types and geographies.

Inputs outputs

Unlike some carbon estimation models that draw from FIA data, the Forest Sector Carbon Calculator relies on LANDCARD 3.0, a published, peer-reviewed ecosystem carbon model capable of simulating tree growth, removal, and mortality "from scratch". The model includes a climate variable, but does not explicitly incorporate the effects of climate change.

The Forest Sector Carbon Calculator accounts for a substantial number of "modules" or factors (including soil texture, seed dispersal, mortality, dieout, prescribed fire, etc.) but the basic interface and user input fields are relatively simple and straightforward. The model does not require inventory information to set up analysis, and requires only general knowledge of management history and disturbance regimes for the stand or landscape level. The tool is designed to be run on-line, and outputs include exportable figures/graphs and spreadsheets. Users can learn to run model in less than a half hour, and can master the tool within a few sessions.

Restrictions and limitations

The tool is currently parameterized for western Oregon, but can be parameterized for other major forest types and regions around the globe.  The Forest Sector Carbon Calculator website will soon feature a downloadable version of the model (with text-based outputs only); in the meantime, contact Mark Harmon to obtain the model (for customization).  Simulation models are not a substitute for actual measurements of carbon stores in a particular stand, landscape, or wood product pool.

Accessing the tool and additional information

More information, including tutorials on using this tool, are available on its website.

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