Articles | Volume 13, issue 14
Biogeosciences, 13, 4253–4269, 2016

Special issue: Hotspots of greenhouse emissions from terrestrial ecosystems...

Biogeosciences, 13, 4253–4269, 2016

Research article 29 Jul 2016

Research article | 29 Jul 2016

Hotspots of gross emissions from the land use sector: patterns, uncertainties, and leading emission sources for the period 2000–2005 in the tropics

Rosa Maria Roman-Cuesta1,2, Mariana C. Rufino1, Martin Herold2, Klaus Butterbach-Bahl3,4, Todd S. Rosenstock5, Mario Herrero6, Stephen Ogle7, Changsheng Li8,†, Benjamin Poulter9, Louis Verchot1,10, Christopher Martius1, John Stuiver2, and Sytze de Bruin2 Rosa Maria Roman-Cuesta et al.
  • 1Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), P.O. Box 0113 BOCBD, Bogor 16000, Indonesia
  • 2Laboratory of Geo-Information Science and Remote Sensing, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 3, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • 3International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), P.O. Box 30709, Nairobi 00100, Kenya
  • 4Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU), Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  • 5World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), PO Box 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
  • 6Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Agriculture Flagship, 306 Carmody Road, St Lucia, QLD 4067, Australia
  • 7Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Campus Delivery 1499, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1499, USA
  • 8Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA
  • 9Ecosystem Dynamics Laboratory, Montana State University, P.O. Box 172000, Bozeman, MT 59717-2000, USA
  • 10Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability, Columbia University, New York, USA
  • deceased

Abstract. According to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), emissions must be cut by 41–72 % below 2010 levels by 2050 for a likely chance of containing the global mean temperature increase to 2 °C. The AFOLU sector (Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use) contributes roughly a quarter ( ∼  10–12 Pg CO2e yr−1) of the net anthropogenic GHG emissions mainly from deforestation, fire, wood harvesting, and agricultural emissions including croplands, paddy rice, and livestock. In spite of the importance of this sector, it is unclear where the regions with hotspots of AFOLU emissions are and how uncertain these emissions are. Here we present a novel, spatially comparable dataset containing annual mean estimates of gross AFOLU emissions (CO2, CH4, N2O), associated uncertainties, and leading emission sources, in a spatially disaggregated manner (0.5°) for the tropics for the period 2000–2005. Our data highlight the following: (i) the existence of AFOLU emissions hotspots on all continents, with particular importance of evergreen rainforest deforestation in Central and South America, fire in dry forests in Africa, and both peatland emissions and agriculture in Asia; (ii) a predominant contribution of forests and CO2 to the total AFOLU emissions (69 %) and to their uncertainties (98 %); (iii) higher gross fluxes from forests, which coincide with higher uncertainties, making agricultural hotspots appealing for effective mitigation action; and (iv) a lower contribution of non-CO2 agricultural emissions to the total gross emissions (ca. 25 %), with livestock (15.5 %) and rice (7 %) leading the emissions. Gross AFOLU tropical emissions of 8.0 (5.5–12.2) were in the range of other databases (8.4 and 8.0 Pg CO2e yr−1 in FAOSTAT and the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) respectively), but we offer a spatially detailed benchmark for monitoring progress in reducing emissions from the land sector in the tropics. The location of the AFOLU hotspots of emissions and data on their associated uncertainties will assist national policy makers, investors, and other decision-makers who seek to understand the mitigation potential of the AFOLU sector.

Short summary
This research provides spatial data on gross emissions from the land use sector for the tropical region for the period 2000–2005. This sector contributes up to 24 % of the global emissions, but there is little understanding of where the hotspots of emissions are, how uncertain they are, and what the human activities behind these emissions are. Data provided here should assist countries to identify priority areas for mitigation action and contrast the effectiveness of their current measures.
Final-revised paper