Carbon Storage and Carbon Credits for Forest Management: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Mike Ryan USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station Fort Collins, CO 80526 [email_address] http://lamar.colostate.edu/~mryan
From SOCCR Report: http://www.climatescience.gov Why does the carbon cycle matter? CO 2 absorbs radiation from earth and warms it Rising CO 2 increases ocean acidity CO 2 was not higher than 280 ppm for > 400,000 years Rising CO 2 shows an imbalance between sources and sinks
Reservoirs in plants and soil are similar to fossil fuels
Fluxes to and from plants and soil are large
Fluxes – how much enters and how much leaves a pool per unit time Pools – how much C is in a given location
From SOCCR Report: http://www.climatescience.gov US forests and long-lived wood products offset about 12-20% of fossil-fuel emissions North America Mt = (10 12 g) CCSP, 2007. The First State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR): The North American Carbon Budget and Implications for the Global Carbon Cycle .
SOCCR Report includes large estimates for carbon stored in soil (highly uncertain).
Woodbury et al (2007) has a much lower rate for carbon stored in soil.
US Forest Carbon Balance 1800-1950: Forest Disturbance on a Massive Scale-the Industrial Revolution Birdsey, R., K. Pregitzer, and A. Lucier. 2006. Forest carbon management in the United States: 1600-2100. Journal of Environmental Quality 35:1461-1469. In 1915, emissions from forests were 760 million tons C per year Photo courtesy of University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, KIN084. ?
In 2000, sequestration by forests was ~200 million tons C per year US Forest Carbon Balance 1950 to 2008: Forest Regrowth on a Massive Scale Birdsey, R., K. Pregitzer, and A. Lucier. 2006. Forest carbon management in the United States: 1600-2100. Journal of Environmental Quality 35:1461-1469. Photo by Mike Ryan
Forest carbon has a cycle: after disturbance, loss and recovery Photo by Mike Ryan Photo by Dan Kashian Photo by National Park Service Photo by Mike Ryan
Ecosystems that regenerate forests after disturbance (harvesting, fire, bugs) will recover all of the carbon lost
The larger the landscape, the more stable the carbon seems
How Does Fire Change Forest Carbon? Fire kills trees, it doesn’t consume them; Fire losses of foliage and forest floor are only ~10-20% of the site carbon Photo by Dan Kashian Photo by AZ Dept Emergency Mgmt
Fire would reduce carbon storage on the YNP landscape only if stand-replacing fires become much more frequent (return intervals < 50 yrs)
What happens with no regeneration? Example: Hayman Fire, Colorado, 2002 Photo by Merrill Kaufmann, USFS
Bottom line: After a fire, if a forest replaces itself, there is little net loss or gain of carbon over a fire cycle
What about MPB Outbreak? Example: Colorado, 1998-? Photo by Merrill Kaufmann, USFS