Climatic Change

, Volume 124, Issue 1–2, pp 53–63 | Cite as

Valuing albedo as an ecosystem service: implications for forest management

Article

Abstract

Surface albedo is a property of the Earth’s surface that provides an important climate regulating ecosystem service through the reflection of incoming solar radiation. In some regions, the cooling effect of higher albedo associated with snow-covered bare ground and young forests, compared to mature forests, can exceed the cooling effect of carbon sequestration from forest growth. Properly assigning an economic value to the net benefits of albedo-related shortwave radiative flux is therefore important in order to understand how these two ecosystem services may tradeoff under different scenarios and in different forests. Here we place an economic value on albedo-related shortwave radiation through the use of shadow prices derived from an integrated assessment model (DICE). We then examine the potential impact of this value on optimal forest rotation in the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) in the state of New Hampshire, USA. Our results suggest that valuing albedo can shorten optimal rotation periods significantly compared to scenarios where only timber and carbon are considered. For instance, in spruce-fir stands, very short rotation periods of just 25 years become economically optimal when albedo is considered. We attribute this to the low productivity of the sites within the WMNF as well as the substantial snowfall that occurs in the area. Thus, in high latitude forests where snowfall is common and productivity is low, incorporating the valuation of albedo may lead to relatively short optimal rotation periods if the only ecosystem services considered are timber provisioning and climate regulation.

Supplementary material

10584_2014_1109_Fig5_ESM.gif (572 kb)
Figure S1

A flowchart representing the modeling approach. Beginning in the top-left corner, land cover and geographic information data was collected for the study sites which were used to extract albedo values from two sources: the MODIS MCD43A product (Schaaf et al. 2002) and the MOD10A product (Klein and Stroeve 2002). Yearly radiative forcing values were calculated through measurements of latitude, atmospheric transmittance, the clearness of the atmosphere (KT) as measured by NASA’s Surface meteorology and Solar Energy (ISSCP) project (NASA 2009), and an albedo decay model. Forest growth parameters were generated from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Inventory and Analysis (FIA) database of stand information and carbon storage data was provided by the United States Department of Energy’s Carbon On Line Estimator (COLE) 1605 (b) reports (Proctor et al. 2005). (GIF 571 kb)

10584_2014_1109_MOESM1_ESM.tiff (193 kb)
High Resolution Image (TIFF 192 kb)
10584_2014_1109_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (17 kb)
Figure S2Shadow prices and net benefits (undiscounted) from albedo and carbon for a spruce-fir stand from the WMNF study site with a 25 year harvest rotation period. Albedo revenue increases after clear-cuts, whereas carbon revenue decreases significantly due to losses associated with harvest. (PDF 17 kb)
10584_2014_1109_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (42 kb)
Table S1Biological parameters associated with each of the four simulated forest stand types. Parameter values for each of the four simulated forest types (PDF 42 kb)
10584_2014_1109_MOESM4_ESM.doc (570 kb)
ESM 1(DOC 570 kb)

References

  1. Adams M, Loughry L, Plaugher L (2004) Experimental forests and ranges of the USDA Forest Service. Northeastern Research Station, p 178Google Scholar
  2. Anderson RG, Canadell JG, Randerson JT et al (2011) Biophysical considerations in forestry for climate protection. Front Ecol Environ 9:174–182. doi:10.1890/090179 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bailey A, Hornbeck J, Campbell J, Eagar C (2003) Hydrometeorological database for Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest: 1955–2000, vol 305. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station, p 36Google Scholar
  4. Bala G, Caldeira K, Wickett M et al (2007) Combined climate and carbon-cycle effects of large-scale deforestation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104:6550–6555. doi:10.1073/pnas.0608998104 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Betts RA (2000) Offset of the potential carbon sink from boreal forestation by decreases in surface albedo. Nature 408:187–190. doi:10.1038/35041545 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Betts AK, Ball JH (1997) Albedo over the boreal forest. J Geophys Res 102:28901. doi:10.1029/96JD03876 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Binkley CS, Van Kooten GC (1994) Integrating climatic change and forests: economic and ecologic assessments. Clim Chang 28:91–110. doi:10.1007/BF01094102 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Birdsey RA (1996) Carbon storage for major forest types and regions in the conterminous United States. For Global Change 2:1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bonan GB, Pollard D, Thompson SL (1992) Effects of boreal forest vegetation on global climate. Nature 359:716–718. doi:10.1038/359716a0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bright RM, Strømman AH, Peters GP (2011) Radiative forcing impacts of boreal forest biofuels: a scenario study for Norway in light of albedo. Environ Sci Technol 45:7570–7580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bright RM, Cherubini F, Strømman AH (2012) Climate impacts of bioenergy: inclusion of carbon cycle and albedo dynamics in life cycle impact assessment. Environ Impact Assess Rev 37:2–11. doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2012.01.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Canadell JG, Raupach MR (2008) Managing forests for climate change mitigation. Science (NY) 320:1456–1457. doi:10.1126/science.1155458 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chen TS, Ohring G (1984) On the relationship between clear-sky planetary and surface albedos. J Atmos Sci 41:156–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cherubini F, Bright RM, Strømman AH (2012) Site-specific global warming potentials of biogenic CO 2 for bioenergy: contributions from carbon fluxes and albedo dynamics. Environ Res Lett 7:045902. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/045902 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Claussen M, Brovkin V, Ganopolski A (2001) Biogeophysical versus biogeochemical feedbacks of large-scale land cover change. Geophys Res Lett 28:1011–1014. doi:10.1029/2000GL012471 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eckaus RS (1992) Comparing the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on global warming. Energy J 13:25–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Energy USD of (2004) Draft technical guidelines for voluntary reporting of greenhouse gas program. Chapter 1, emission inventories. Part I: appendix. Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  18. Euskirchen ES, Goodstein E, Huntington HP (2013) An estimated cost of lost climate regulation services caused by thawing of the Arctic cryosphere. Ecol Appl 23:1869–1880. doi:10.1890/11-0858.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gutrich J, Howarth RB (2007) Carbon sequestration and the optimal management of New Hampshire timber stands. Ecol Econ 62:441–450. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2006.07.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Houspanossian J, Nosetto M, Jobbágy EG (2013) Radiation budget changes with dry forest clearing in temperate Argentina. Glob Chang Biol 19:1211–1222. doi:10.1111/gcb.12121 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jackson RB, Randerson JT, Canadell JG et al (2008) Protecting climate with forests. Environ Res Lett 3:044006. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/3/4/044006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jin Y (2002) How does snow impact the albedo of vegetated land surfaces as analyzed with MODIS data? Geophys Res Lett 29:1374. doi:10.1029/2001GL014132 Google Scholar
  23. Kirschbaum MUF, Whitehead D, Dean SM et al (2011) Implications of albedo changes following afforestation on the benefits of forests as carbon sinks. Biogeosciences 8:3687–3696. doi:10.5194/bg-8-3687-2011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Klein AG, Stroeve J (2002) Development and validation of a snow albedo algorithm for the MODIS instrument. Ann Glaciol 34:8. doi:10.3189/172756402781817662 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kuusinen N, Kolari P, Levula J et al (2012) Seasonal variation in boreal pine forest albedo and effects of canopy snow on forest reflectance. Agric For Meteorol 164:53–60. doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2012.05.009 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lee X, Goulden ML, Hollinger DY et al (2011) Observed increase in local cooling effect of deforestation at higher latitudes. Nature 479:384–387. doi:10.1038/nature10588 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lenton TM, Vaughan NE (2009) The radiative forcing potential of different climate geoengineering options. Atmos Chem Phys Discuss 9:5539–5561CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Liski J, Pussinen A, Pingoud K et al (2011) Which rotation length is favourable to carbon sequestration? Can J For Res 31(11):2004–2013CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Muñoz I, Campra P, Fernández-Alba AR (2010) Including CO2-emission equivalence of changes in land surface albedo in life cycle assessment. Methodology and case study on greenhouse agriculture. Int J Life Cycle Assess 15:672–681. doi:10.1007/s11367-010-0202-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nordhaus W (2008) A question of balance: weighing the options on global warming policies, the challenge of global warming: economic models and environmental policy. Yale University Press, YaleGoogle Scholar
  31. Nordhaus WD (2010) Economic aspects of global warming in a post-Copenhagen environment. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107:11721–11726. doi:10.1073/pnas.1005985107 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ollinger SV (2011) Sources of variability in canopy reflectance and the convergent properties of plants. New Phytol 189:375–394. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03536.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Peterson U, Nilson T (1993) Successional reflectance trajectories in northern temperate forests. Int J Remote Sens 14:609–613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Price C, Willis R (2011) The multiple effects of carbon values on optimal rotation. J For Econ 17:298–306. doi:10.1016/j.jfe.2011.02.002 Google Scholar
  35. Proctor P, Heath L, Van Deusen PC et al (2005) COLE: A web-based tool for interfacing with forest inventory data. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, General Technical Report, 352:167Google Scholar
  36. Schaaf CB, Gao F, Strahler AH et al (2002) First operational BRDF, albedo nadir reflectance products from MODIS. Remote Sens Environ 83:135–148. doi:10.1016/S0034-4257(02)00091-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schwaiger HP, Bird DN (2010) Integration of albedo effects caused by land use change into the climate balance: should we still account in greenhouse gas units? For Ecol Manag 260:278–286. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2009.12.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sedjo RA, Wisniewski J, Sample AV, Kinsman JD (1995) The economics of managing carbon via forestry: assessment of existing studies. Environ Resour Econ 6:139–165. doi:10.1007/BF00691681 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sjølie HK, Latta GS, Solberg B (2013) Potential impact of albedo incorporation in boreal forest sector climate change policy effectiveness. Clim Pol 1–15. doi:10.1080/14693062.2013.786302
  40. Stoleson SH, King DI, Yamasaki M et al (2011) Three decades of avian research on the Bartlett Experimental Forest, New Hampshire, U.S.A. For Ecol Manag 262:3–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Thomas S, Dargusch P, Harrison S, Herbohn J (2010) Why are there so few afforestation and reforestation Clean Development Mechanism projects? Land Use Policy 27:880–887. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.12.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Thompson MP, Adams D, Sessions J (2009) Radiative forcing and the optimal rotation age. Ecol Econ 68:2713–2720. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.05.009 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Van Doorn NS, Battles JJ, Fahey TJ et al (2011) Links between biomass and tree demography in a northern hardwood forest: a decade of stability and change in Hubbard Brook Valley, New Hampshire. Can J For Res 41:1369–1379. doi:10.1139/x11-063 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Van Kooten GC, Binkley CS, Delcourt G (1995) Effect of carbon taxes and subsidies on optimal forest rotation age and supply of carbon services. Am J Agric Econ 77:365. doi:10.2307/1243546 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Studies ProgramDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA

Personalised recommendations