Articles | Volume 9, issue 8
Research article
30 Aug 2012
Research article |  | 30 Aug 2012

Global estimates of carbon stock changes in living forest biomass: EDGARv4.3 – time series from 1990 to 2010

A. M. R. Petrescu, R. Abad-Viñas, G. Janssens-Maenhout, V. N. B. Blujdea, and G. Grassi

Abstract. While the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) focuses on global estimates for the full set of anthropogenic activities, the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector might be the most diverse and most challenging to cover consistently for all countries of the world. Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are required to provide periodic estimates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, following the latest approved methodological guidance by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The current study aims to consistently estimate the carbon (C) stock changes from living forest biomass for all countries of the world, in order to complete the LULUCF sector in EDGAR. In order to derive comparable estimates for developing and developed countries, it is crucial to use a single methodology with global applicability. Data for developing countries are generally poor, such that only the Tier 1 methods from either the IPCC Good Practice Guide for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (GPG-LULUCF) 2003 or the IPCC 2006 Guidelines can be applied to these countries. For this purpose, we applied the IPCC Tier 1 method at global level following both IPCC GPG-LULUCF 2003 and IPCC 2006, using spatially coarse activity data (i.e. area, obtained combining two different global forest maps: the Global Land Cover map and the eco-zones subdivision of the Global Ecological Zone (GEZ) map) in combination with the IPCC default C stocks and C stock change factors. Results for the C stock changes were calculated separately for gains, harvest, fires (Global Fire Emissions Database version 3, GFEDv.3) and net deforestation for the years 1990, 2000, 2005 and 2010. At the global level, results obtained with the two sets of IPCC guidance differed by about 40 %, due to different assumptions and default factors. The IPCC Tier 1 method unavoidably introduced high uncertainties due to the "globalization" of parameters. When the results using IPCC 2006 for Annex I Parties are compared to other international datasets such as (UNFCCC, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)) or scientific publications, a significant overestimation of the sink emerges. For developing countries, we conclude that C stock change in forest remaining forest can hardly be estimated with the Tier 1 method especially for calculating the C losses, mainly because wood removal data are not separately available on harvesting or deforestation. Overall, confronting the IPCC GPG-LULUCF 2003 and IPCC 2006 methodologies, we conclude that IPCC 2006 suits best the needs of EDGAR and provide a consistent global picture of C stock changes from living forest biomass independent of country estimates.

Final-revised paper