It’s a tough number to nail down, but a federal program is zeroing in on it
The U.S. Geological Survey is developing a series of reports on how much carbon and other greenhouse gases the nation’s ecosystems hold. Trees and plants, soils and rivers, farms and wetlands all sequester carbon to greater or lesser extents. But how much? And how might that number change in the future? That’s the crux of the USGS study, which was initiated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 [page 223 of the PDF]. (There’s a simultaneous study, also by the USGS, to assess geologic carbon sequestration).
The national assessment will include details on greenhouse gas sequestration nationwide: how much carbon is stored now, how that carbon sink might be altered by different land use scenarios in the future (for example, increased or decreased logging, urbanization, wetland restoration efforts or agriculture), plus impacts from other sources, such as wildfire and climate change.