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Original Research Papers

How well do we know the flux of CO2 from land-use change?

Author:

R. A. Houghton

The Woods Hole Research Center, 149 Woods Hole Road, Falmouth, MA 02540, US
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Abstract

Five new estimates of global net annual emissions of carbon from land use and land-use change collectively describe a gradually increasing trend in emissions, from ∼0.6 PgC yr−1 in 1850 to ∼1.3 PgC yr−1 in the period 1950–2005, with an annual range that varies between ±0.2 and ±0.4 PgC yr−1 of the mean. All estimates agree in the upward trend from 1850 to ∼1950 but not thereafter. In recent decades, when rates of land-use change and biomass density should be better known than in the past, the estimates are more variable. Most analyses have used three quasi-independent estimates of land-use change that are based on national and international agricultural and forestry data of limited accuracy in many countries. Further, the estimates of biomass used in the analyses have a common but limited literature base, which fails to address the spatial variability of biomass density within ecosystems. In contrast to the sources of information that have been used to date, a combination of existing ground and remote sensing data are available to determine with far higher accuracy rates of land-use change, aboveground biomass density, and, hence, the net flux of carbon from land use and land-use change.

How to Cite: Houghton, R.A., 2010. How well do we know the flux of CO2 from land-use change?. Tellus B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology, 62(5), pp.337–351. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0889.2010.00473.x
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  Published on 01 Jan 2010
 Accepted on 14 Jun 2010            Submitted on 25 Nov 2009

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