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Accurate quantification of forest carbon stocks and fluxes over regions is needed to monitor forest resources as they respond to changes in climate, disturbance and management, and also to evaluate contributions of forest sector to the regional and global carbon balances. In previous work we introduced a national forest carbon monitoring system (NFCMS) that combines forest inventory data, satellite remote sensing of stand biomass and forest disturbances, and an ecosystem carbon cycle model to assess contemporary forest carbon dynamics at a 30 m resolution. In this study, we evaluate the NFCMS estimates of biomass and carbon fluxes with available data products for the Pacific Northwest (PNW) region, and then analyze the regional carbon balance over the period 1986-2010. The biomass estimates have good agreements with evaluation datasets (eMapR, NBCD2000, and Hagen2005) at regional and forest type levels, and at spatial scales of 1 km2 and larger. Regionwide, PNW forests acted as a stable net sink for atmospheric CO2 (18.5 Tg C yr-1) within forestlands. However, harvesting activities removed significant amounts of carbon, equating to over 75% of annual net carbon sink, though only 25% of this (∼3.5 Tg C yr-1) is emitted to the atmosphere within 50 years. Wildfires contributed modestly to carbon emissions in most years, however, the severe fires of 2002 and 2006 released 16.6 and 7.1 Tg C, respectively. The study demonstrates the potential of the NFCMS framework to serve as a candidate measuring, reporting and verification system, informed by field and remotely sensed inventories, and tracking the carbon balance of the forest sector across the United States.

Publication Title

Environmental Research Letters

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carbon balance, disturbances, forest inventory, modeling, regrowth

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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