Comparisons of allometric and climate-derived estimates of tree coarse root carbon stocks in forests of the United States

TitleComparisons of allometric and climate-derived estimates of tree coarse root carbon stocks in forests of the United States
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsRussell, Matthew B., Domke Grant M., Woodall Christopher W., and D’Amato Anthony
JournalCarbon Balance and Management
Date Published4-Sep-2015
KeywordsBelowground biomass, Carbon accounting, Carbon-climate, Forest Inventory and Analysis, Root:shoot ratio

Background: Refined estimation of carbon (C) stocks within forest ecosystems is a critical component of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of projected climate change through forest C management. Specifically, belowground C stocks are currently estimated in the United States’ national greenhouse gas inventory (US NGHGI) using nationally consistent species- and diameter-specific equations applied to individual trees. Recent scientific evidence has pointed to the importance of climate as a driver of belowground C stocks. This study estimates belowground C using current methods applied in the US NGHGI and describes a new approach for merging both allometric models with climate-derived predictions of belowground C stocks. Results: Climate-adjusted predictions were variable depending on the region and forest type of interest, but represented an increase of 368.87 Tg of belowground C across the US, or a 6.4 % increase when compared to currently-implemented NGHGI estimates. Random forests regressions indicated that aboveground biomass, stand age, and stand origin (i.e., planted versus artificial regeneration) were useful predictors of belowground C stocks. Decreases in belowground C stocks were modeled after projecting mean annual temperatures at various locations throughout the US up to year 2090. Conclusions: By combining allometric equations with trends in temperature, we conclude that climate variables can be used to adjust the US NGHGI estimates of belowground C stocks. Such strategies can be used to determine the effects of future global change scenarios within a C accounting framework.