NE - RWU 4104

Last modified 03/29/2006

Woodbury, Peter B.; Smith, James E.; Heath, Linda S. 2007.

Carbon sequestration in the U.S. forest sector from 1990 to 2010.

Forest Ecology and Management 241:14-27.


Forest inventory data supplemented with data from intensive research sites and models were used to estimate carbon stocks and sequestration rates in U.S. forests, including effects of land use change. Data on the production of wood products and emission from decomposition were used to estimate carbon stocks and sequestration rates in wood products and landfills. From 1990 through 2005, the forest sector (including forests and wood products) sequestered an average 162 Tg C year−1. In 2005, 49% of the total forest sector sequestration was in live and dead trees, 27% was in wood products in landfills, with the remainder in down dead wood, wood products in use, and forest floor and soil. The pools with the largest carbon stocks were not the same as those with the largest sequestration rates, except for the tree pool. For example, landfilled wood products comprise only 3% of total stocks but account for 27% of carbon sequestration. Conversely, forest soils comprise 48% of total stocks but account for only 2% of carbon sequestration. For the tree pool, the spatial pattern of carbon stocks was dissimilar to that of carbon flux. On an area basis, tree carbon stocks were highest in the Pacific Northwest, while changes were generally greatest in the upper Midwest and the Northeast. Net carbon sequestration in the forest sector in 2005 offset 10% of U.S. CO2 emissions. In the near future, we project that U.S. forests will continue to sequester carbon at a rate similar to that in recent years. Based on a comparison of our estimates to a compilation of land-based estimates of non-forest carbon sinks from the literature, we estimate that the conterminous U.S. annually sequesters 149330 Tg C year−1. Forests, urban trees, and wood products are responsible for 6591% of this sink.


Carbon budget; Forest ecosystem; Carbon sink; Carbon sequestration; Land use change

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