Science Goals

National scale biomass and carbon stock estimators for forests of the United States.

Knowledge synthesis and systems integration of volume, biomass, and carbon information.

Growing stock volume, biomass, and carbon are key attributes of our Nation's forests. Understanding past and present quantities and their changes over time is necessary to understand forests' capacity to provide ecosystem services including wood and fiber production for traditional timber products or bioenergy; in addition, knowledge of forest carbon stores is important for accurate greenhouse-gas accounting related to climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

A great deal of work measuring tree volumes, biomass, and other component properties has been sustained over many decades by the USDA Forest Service and other institutions. Thousands of trees at numerous field sites have been felled, processed, scaled, and weighed, along with many thousands more standing trees carefully measured to obtain taper and volume. Reproducing a substantial portion of that work today would be cost prohibitive, if possible at all. The alternative proposed here is to recover legacy records from past work, then develop and implement database services aimed at preserving and increasing the value of the legacy data over time.


• Compile, disseminate, and provide services for a comprehensive archive of observations related to tree biomass contents and related physical properties

• Provide data and information relevant to tree biomass, components, and basic physiochemical properties critical for understanding the amount, distribution and rates of change in U.S. Forest biomass and carbon accumulation.

• Facilitate research, education, decision-support, and outreach for USDA Forest Service Research Stations and support for National Forest System management and planning processes related to forest biomass and volume estimation.

• Test and refine eco-physiological theories and hypotheses regarding forest production and carbon balance, carbon and nutrient allocation, biomechanical models, population genetics, the uniform stress hypothesis, pipe model, and functional relationships between populations.

• Understand drivers of geographic variation in key individual stem traits such as specific gravity, biomass, and volume.

• Attribute the causes and degree of species and geographic variation in total biomass and its allocation to components.

• Develop generalized volume/biomass equations for use in applications ranging from earth systems observation to landscape ecology, to community biology, to molecular biology.

• Evaluate alternative biomass and volume sampling schemes and their relative merits.