Carbon sequestration studied in western U.S. mountains


  • David Schimel,

    1. National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305
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  • Timothy G. F. Kittel,

  • Steven Running,

  • Russell Monson,

  • Andrew Turnipseed,

  • Dean Anderson


The U.S. carbon budget has been the focus of recent scientific debate [Fan et al., 1998; Pacala et al., 2001; Gurney et al., 2002] Even conservative estimates suggest that U.S. ecosystems take up a significant amount of carbon, largely as a result of historical land use practices [Houghton et al., 1999; Schimel et al.,2000; Pacala et al., 2001]. In the western United States, a key cause of carbon sequestration is fire suppression. Fire suppression, of course, also sets the stage for the catastrophic losses that are occurring during fire season 2002. Increases in fire due to the effects of fire suppression, increased prescribed burning and thinning, and climate change could significantly affect the national carbon budget. At the continental scale, a comprehensive research approach—the North American Carbon Program (NACP)—is planned to quantify carbon exchange and improve our understanding of the contributing processes [Wofsy and Harriss, 2002].