Tropical Forests Store More Carbon Than Previously Believed, Study Says

A new analysis calculates that vegetation in the world’s tropical regions stores about 229 billion tons of carbon, which is about 21 percent more carbon than previously believed.

Using remote sensing satellite data — including cloud-penetrating LiDAR — and field observations from forests, woodlands and savannas across Africa, Asia, and South America, researchers say they were able to create the first “wall-to-wall” map depicting carbon density.

According to their results, Brazilian rainforests store about 53.2 billion tons of carbon, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (22 billion) and Indonesia (18.6). “For the first time we were able to derive accurate estimates of carbon densities using satellite LiDAR observations in places that have never been measured,” said Alessandro Baccini of the Woods Hole Research Center the lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The results could help improve the accuracy of reporting carbon emissions as part of the UN-based REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) initiative, which provides incentives to developing nations to prevent large-scale deforestation.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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