CBI's LandCarbon Project

Oct 23, 2015
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Contributing to the USGS' National Carbon Sequestration Assessment

CBI's global change team was involved in a project designed to complement earlier results from a national carbon sequestration assessment, the LandCarbon project, conducted by the US Geological Survey (USGS) in response to section 712 of the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 (US Government Printing Office, 2007).

The assessment examined carbon storage, carbon fluxes, and other GHG fluxes (methane and nitrous oxide) in all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in two time periods: baseline (2001-2005) and future (from baseline to 2050).

Three regional assessments (Zhu et al. 2011, Zhu and Reed 2012, Zhu and Reed 2014) were generated using three biogeochemical models including Century version 4.0 (Parton et al. 1994, Metherell et al. 1993), the Erosion Deposition Carbon Model (EDCM; Liu et al. 2003), and the Land Greenhouse-Gas Accounting Tool (LGAT) biogeochemical models implemented in the General Ensemble Biogeochemical Modeling System (GEMS; Liu 2009, Liu et al. 2012).

CBI's contribution to this project had three objectives:

  1. Because initial results from the LandCarbon project simulated the response of actual vegetation, our simulation results could provide comparable estimates of the response of potential national vegetation to climate change and its effect on ecosystem carbon balance;

  2. Because our model includes a dynamic fire model, it could help estimate the amount of carbon lost to wildfires and the effect of fire suppression on carbon stocks;

  3. By simulating even a simplified representation of land use with the same model, we could evaluate the magnitude of the effect of land use scenarios associated with each emission scenario on the US carbon budget.

The MC2 model, the C++ version of the original MC1 DGVM (Bachelet et al. 2001a and b), was run for 9 climate futures (3 GCMs - CSIRO, CGCM3 and MIROC and 3 emission scenarios - A1B, A2, B1) following the LandCarbon methodology described by Zhu et al. (2010) to provide estimates of plant and soil carbon pools, carbon fluxes such as primary production, decomposition, fire emissions for potential natural vegetation, as well as possible effects of fire suppression and a simple land use scheme on the US carbon balance (Bachelet et al. 2015).

Acknowledgments: Funding for this research was provided by the U.S. Geological Survey's Climate and Landuse Program through USGS grant G12AC20214. The authors want to acknowledge Dr Rama Nemani, NASA, for allowing them free access to the Pleiades NASA supercomputer.


Bachelet, D., K. Ferschweiler, T.J. Sheehan, B.M. Sleeter and Z. Zhu. 2015 (accepted). Projected carbon stocks in the conterminous US with land use and variable fire regimes. Global Change Biology. On line 24 July 2015 - DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13048.

Liu, S., N. Bliss, E. Sundquist, and T.G. Huntington. 2003. Modeling carbon dynamics in vegetation and soil under the impact of soil erosion and deposition. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 17(2):1074, doi:10.1029/2002GB002010.

Liu, S. 2009. Quantifying the spatial details of carbon sequestration potential and performance. pp 117-128 In: B.J. McPherson and E.T. Sundquist, eds. Carbon sequestration and its role in the global carbon cycle. American Geophysical Union Monograph 183. AGU, Washington D.C. doi:10.1029/2006GM000524.

Liu, S., B. Bond-Lamberty, J. Hicke, R.Vargas, S. Zhao, J. Chen, S.L. Edburg, Y. Hu, J. Liu, A.D. McGuire, J. Xiao, R. Keane, W. Yuan, J. Tang, Y. Luo, C. Potter, and J. Oeding. 2011. Simulating the impacts of disturbances on forest carbon cycling in North America: Processes, data, models, and challenges. Journal of Geophysical Research 116, G00K08. doi:10.1029/2010JG001585.

Liu, S., Z. Tan, M. Chen, J. Liu, A. Wein, Z. Li, S. Huang, J. Oeding, C. Young, S.B. Verma, A.E. Suyker, S. Faulkner, and G.W. McCarty. 2012. The General Ensemble Biogeochemical Modeling System (GEMS) and its Applications to Agricultural Systems in the United States. p. 309-323. In: M.A. Liebig, A.J. Franzluebbers, and R.F. Follett, eds. Managing agricultural greenhouse gases: Coordinated agricultural research through GRACEnet to address our changing climate. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

Metherell A.K., L.A. Harding, C.V. Cole, and W.J. Parton. 1993. CENTURY soil organic matter model environment: Technical documentation Agroecosystem version 4.0. Great Plains System Research Unit Technical Report No. 4, USDA-ARS, Fort Collins, CO.

Parton, W. J., D. S. Schimel, D. S. Ojima, and C. V. Cole. 1994. A general study model for soil organic matter dynamics, sensitivity to litter chemistry, texture, and management. Soil Science Society of America Journal. Quantitative Modeling of Soil Forming Processes, SSSA Special Publication 39:147–167.

Zhu, Z., ed., M. Bouchard, D. Butman, T. Hawbaker, Z. Li, J. Liu, S. Liu, C. McDonald, R. Reker, K. Sayler, B. Sleeter, T. Sohl, S. Stackpoole, A. Wein, and Z. Zhu. 2011. Baseline and projected future carbon storage and greenhouse-gas fluxes in the Great Plains region of the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1787, 28 p.

Zhu, Z., and B.C. Reed, eds. 2012. Baseline and projected future carbon storage and greenhouse-gas fluxes in ecosystems of the Western United States: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1797, 192 p.

Zhu, Z., and B.C. Reed, eds. 2014. Baseline and projected future carbon storage and greenhouse-gas fluxes in ecosystems of the eastern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1804, 204 p.

Zhu, Z, ed., B. Bergamaschi, R. Bernknopf, D. Clow, D. Dye, S. Faulkner, W. Forney, , R. Gleason, T. Hawbaker, J. Liu, S. Liu, S. Prisley, B. Reed, M. Reeves, M. Rollins, B. Sleeter, T. Sohl, S. Stackpoole, S. Stehman, R. Striegl, A. Wein, and Z. Zhu. 2010. A method for assessing carbon stocks, carbon sequestration, and greenhouse-gas fluxes in ecosystems of the United States under present conditions and future scenarios. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010 - 5233. 188 pp.

Recommended by Dominique Bachelet
Dominique Bachelet. 2015. CBI's LandCarbon Project. In: Data Basin. [First published in Data Basin on Oct 23, 2015; Retrieved on Jan 20, 2019] <https://databasin.org/articles/64f49fea0b4c46c5b58872f9b7f5ed09>

About the Author

Dominique Bachelet
climate change scientist with Oregon State University

Dominique received her Master’s degree in 1978 in Lille (France) and her Ph.D. in 1983 from Colorado State University with a thesis focused on biogeochemical cycles in the shortgrass prairie. In 1984 she went to U.C. Riverside as a postdoc simulating nitrogen fixing shrubs in the Sonoran desert then...