, Volume 84, Issue 2, pp 191-202
Date: 01 Mar 2007

Terrestrial carbon pools in southeast and south-central United States

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Analyses of regional carbon sources and sinks are essential to assess the economical feasibility of various carbon sequestration technologies for mitigating atmospheric CO2 accumulation and for preventing global warming. Such an inventory is a prerequisite for regional trading of CO2 emissions. As a U.S. Department of Energy Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partner, we have estimated the state-level terrestrial carbon pools in the southeast and south-central US. This region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. We have also projected the potential for terrestrial carbon sequestration in the region. Texas is the largest contributor (34%) to greenhouse gas emission in the region. The total terrestrial carbon storage (forest biomass and soils) in the southeast and south-central US is estimated to be 130 Tg C/year. An annual forest carbon sink (estimated as 76 Tg C/year) could compensate for 13% of the regional total annual greenhouse gas emission (505 Tg C, 1990 estimate). Through proper policies and the best land management practices, 54 Tg C/year could be sequestered in soils. Thus, terrestrial sinks can capture 23% of the regional total greenhouse emission and hence are one of the most cost-effective options for mitigating greenhouse emission in the region.