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Individual Highlight

Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals from Managed Forest Land in Alaska

Photo of Interior Alaska Landscape taken from a helicopter transporting FIA field crews to remote inventory plots.Interior Alaska Landscape taken from a helicopter transporting FIA field crews to remote inventory plots.Snapshot : Alaska forests represent 10 percent of the total managed forest land area in the United States but store 17 percent of the total carbon in forests. These forests also represent a net carbon sink over the last 27 years but there is considerable interannual variability driven, in large part, by wildfire. Emissions from severe fire years in Alaska substantially reduce the contribution of forests in the United States as a carbon sink in those years.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Domke, Grant M. 
Research Location : Alaska, USA
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2019
Highlight ID : 1606

Summary

Forests are the largest net carbon sink in the United States, offsetting more than 11 percent of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually. Estimates of GHG emissions and removals from forests in the United States are based on national forest inventory data and have historically included forest land in the conterminous 48 states and coastal Alaska. A recent analysis of the land sector indicates that more than 24 million hectares of forest land in interior Alaska fits the managed land definition in the U.S. GHG inventory; and, therefore, should be included in annual reporting. For the first time, USDA Forest Service scientists compiled annual estimates of GHG emissions and removals from all managed forest land in Alaska from 1990 to 2017. Forest land in Alaska has a disproportionate amount of the total carbon stored in forests of the United States. Including all managed forest land in Alaska in the 2019 U.S. GHG inventory establishes important baseline estimates for this region, provides a more complete characterization of GHG emissions and removals in the United States, and helps identify opportunities for mitigating GHG emissions in Alaska and other remote areas with limited information.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Brian F. Walters (NRS, St. Paul, MN), Andrew Gray (PNW, Portland, OR), Brendt Mueller (PNW, Anchorage, AK), James Smith (NRS, Durham, NH)
  • Colorado State University