New carbon map for the largest C storehouse in the US (and bonus: the role of disturbances)

With the help of USFS FIA technicians, the carbon map of southeast Alaska is completed. It’s the first spatially explicit, high resolution (30m) map of C stocks in the region (an area the size of Florida!) that contains carbon equivalent to 5-8% of the lower 48 forests combined. This mapping also included the major disturbance regimes of the region - wind and landslides - via a new method of mapping exposure. Thus this is far more accurate of “fundamental” or “baseline” C stocks than a map which either ignores disturbances or only uses the most recent events in its calculations - it’s more a map of the inherent C in this ecosystem; recent disturbance events would be layered on top.

Turns out that higher disturbance exposure in these areas is correlated with higher biomass C stocks - it’s so infrequently disturbed that it appears disturbances are necessary to maintain biomass productivity. Without them, paludification and muskeg formation take over - lots of C in those too, it’s just belowground in thick organic soils.

The manuscript is currently in review.

 Modeled biomass C (left), and modeled C when various disturbance processes are removed. Generally we see a reduction in C at broad scales without disturbances (especially landslides) but the effect is variable at fine scales.

Modeled biomass C (left), and modeled C when various disturbance processes are removed. Generally we see a reduction in C at broad scales without disturbances (especially landslides) but the effect is variable at fine scales.