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February 14th, 2008
First Datasets for National Biomass and Carbon Dataset Now Available

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PR — Scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center working to produce the
“National Biomass and Carbon Dataset” for the year 2000 (NBCD2000) are
releasing data from nine project mapping zones. All NBCD2000 data
products are being made available for download on a zone-by-zone basis
and free of charge from the NBCD2000 project website located at www.whrc.org/nbcd.

Through a combination of NASA satellite datasets, topographic survey
data, land use/land cover information, and extensive forest inventory
data collected by the USDA Forest Service – Forest Inventory and
Analysis Program (FIA), NBCD2000 will provide an invaluable baseline
for quantifying the carbon stock in U.S. forests and will improve
current methods of assessing the carbon flux between forests and the
atmosphere.

According to Dr. Josef Kellndorfer, an associate
scientist at the Center and project leader, “The availability of a high
resolution dataset containing estimates of forest biomass and
associated carbon stock is an important step forward in enabling
researchers to better understand the North American carbon balance.”

As
part of the NBCD2000 initiative, begun in 2005 and funded by NASA’s
Earth Science Program with additional support from the USGS/LANDFIRE,
mapping is being conducted within 67 ecologically diverse regions,
termed “mapping zones”, which span the conterminous United States. Of
the nine completed zones, 5 were finished during a 2-year pilot phase.
Work on the remaining zones will be completed at a rate of roughly one
zone every seven days. The project is scheduled for completion in early
2009.

Wayne Walker, a research associate at the Center who is
also working on the project adds, “The data sets that are now available
should be of interest to natural resource managers across the U.S. For
the first time, high resolution estimates of vegetation canopy height
and biomass are being produced consistently for the entire conterminous
U.S.”

Within each mapping zone data from the 2000 Shuttle Radar
Topography Mission are combined with topographic survey data from the
National Elevation Dataset (NED) to produce a radar-based map of
vegetation canopy height. Subsequently, the map is used to generate
estimates of actual vegetation height, biomass, and carbon stock using
survey data from the U.S. Forest Service – FIA program and ancillary
data sets from the National Land Cover Database 2001 (NLCD2001)
project. The NLCD2001 data layers are crucial inputs to the NBCD2000
project as they provide land cover and canopy density information used
in the stratification/calibration process.

Diane Wickland, the program manager for NASA’s Terrestrial Ecology Program, comments,

“Because this is the first systematic, regional-scale study that
uses radar data to quantify carbon storage in vegetation, the end
result will not only provide valuable information on how well we can do
with existing data, but will allow us to see how we might improve and
refine requirements for future, more capable missions like DESDynI,
which has been recommended by the National Research Council Decadal
Survey on Earth Observation.”

 

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