OneNOAA Science Seminar Series: Carbon Cycle of North America and Research Needs for Enhancing CO2 Removal

Presenter: Richard A. Birdsey, Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center

Event Type: Webinars and Virtual Events

When: 2 April 2019

Where: Online: 8:00-9:00am AKDT, 12:00-1:00pm EDT

Find out more: 
Link to OneNOAA Science Seminars


Seminar 6 in the Series: From Science to Solutions: The State of the Carbon Cycle, the 2nd State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2).


The second “State of the Carbon Cycle of North America Report” (SOCCR-2) includes an overview of the North American carbon budget and future projections, the consequences of changes to the carbon budget, details of the carbon budget in major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems(including coastal ocean waters), information about anthropogenic drivers, and implications for policy and carbon management. SOCCR-2 includes new focus areas such as soil carbon, arctic and boreal ecosystems, tribal lands, and greater emphasis on aquatic systems and the role of societal drivers and decision making on the carbon cycle. SOCCR-2 provides information to support science-based management decisions and policies that include climate change mitigation and adaptation in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Findings indicate that North America is a net emitter of carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere, and that natural sinks offset about 43% of emitted carbon dioxide. Forests, soils, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal oceans comprise the largest carbon sinks. Another report from the National Academy of Sciences was released at the same time, titled “Negative emissions technologies and reliable sequestration: a research agenda”. With SOCCR-2 providing a baseline about carbon sinks over the last decade, the current role of land ecosystems in removing CO2 from the atmosphere is highlighted, along with research needs to facilitate the important role of negative emissions in reducing greenhouse gases sufficiently to limit climate warming to 2 degrees C or less by the end of this century. Afforestation, improved land management, and bioenergy crops are technologically ready for deployment at large scales to achieve reductions of about 10 PgCO2 per year globally. However, research needs to achieve this involve: how to reduce barriers to deployment and achieve full participation by landowners; new approaches to reduce impacts on biodiversity, water, and other land values; better understanding of induced impacts such as changes in timber markets; and improved monitoring and accounting approaches.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Birdsey is a specialist in quantitative methods for large-scale forest inventories and has pioneered development of methods to estimate national carbon budgets for forest lands from forest inventory data. He recently retired from the U.S. Forest Service as a “Distinguished Scientist” and was the Program Manager for global change research in the Northern Research Station. He was a lead author of 2 Special Reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He was a lead author of the first North American “State of the Carbon Cycle” report and is currently a member of the science team guiding the second report. He has contributed to several assessments of climate change in the U.S. He served three years as Chair of the U.S. Government Carbon Cycle Science Steering Group. He has published extensively on forest management and strategies to increase carbon sequestration, and facilitated the development of decision-support tools for policy and management. He was recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a major contributor to creating a new agricultural commodity carbon. Dr. Birdsey is a member of a team of scientists developing and implementing the North American Carbon Program, an international effort to improve quantification and understand causes of carbon exchange between land, atmosphere, and oceans. In recent years he has been actively working with Mexico and Canada to improve monitoring, verification, and reporting to support climate change mitigation with an emphasis on Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation and promoting sustainable forest management (REDD+) and improving forest management in the three countries. He is currently working with the Forest Service National Forest System to implement carbon assessments for all of the U.S. National Forests.

Webinar Access:

We will use Adobe Connect. To join the session, go to, enter as "Guest", and please enter your first and last name. Users should use either IE or Edge on Windows or Safari if using a Mac. Audio will be available thru the computer only; no phone. Questions will be addressed in the chat window. This Webcast will be recorded, archived and made accessible in the near future.

Find out more: 
Link to OneNOAA Science Seminars