High-resolution forest carbon stocks and emissions in the Amazon

Gregory P Asner, George V N Powell, Joseph Mascaro, David E Knapp, John K Clark, James Jacobson, Ty Kennedy-Bowdoin, Aravindh Balaji, Guayana Paez-Acosta, Eloy Victoria, Laura Secada, Michael Valqui, R Flint Hughes
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2010 September 21, 107 (38): 16738-42
Efforts to mitigate climate change through the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) depend on mapping and monitoring of tropical forest carbon stocks and emissions over large geographic areas. With a new integrated use of satellite imaging, airborne light detection and ranging, and field plots, we mapped aboveground carbon stocks and emissions at 0.1-ha resolution over 4.3 million ha of the Peruvian Amazon, an area twice that of all forests in Costa Rica, to reveal the determinants of forest carbon density and to demonstrate the feasibility of mapping carbon emissions for REDD. We discovered previously unknown variation in carbon storage at multiple scales based on geologic substrate and forest type. From 1999 to 2009, emissions from land use totaled 1.1% of the standing carbon throughout the region. Forest degradation, such as from selective logging, increased regional carbon emissions by 47% over deforestation alone, and secondary regrowth provided an 18% offset against total gross emissions. Very high-resolution monitoring reduces uncertainty in carbon emissions for REDD programs while uncovering fundamental environmental controls on forest carbon storage and their interactions with land-use change.


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