Improving estimates of rangeland carbon storage

TitleImproving estimates of rangeland carbon storage
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsBrown J., Angerer J.
Conference Name60th Annual Meeting of the Society for Range Management
Date PublishedFebruary 9-16, 2
Conference LocationSparks/Reno, Nevada
ARIS Log Number209735
Keywordscarbon, GHG, global climate, greenhouse gas, rangelands, terrestrial
AbstractTerrestrial carbon sequestration on rangelands has the potential to make a substantial contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) levels in the atmosphere and mitigate the effects of global climate change. This enhanced sequestration can be accomplished through the management of soils and vegetation, primarily on land that is used for production of domestic livestock and wildlife habitat. In most cases, management methods to increase sequestration rates are compatible with, and support, conservation and production objectives. The primary barriers to adoption of sequestering practices and 1) the short-term costs and risks associated with changing land use or land management regimes, 2) high spatial and temporal variability in the processes that drive carbon dynamics, and 3) lack of reliable measurement technologies and reliable models for prediction of long-term sequestration and related effects in many rangeland ecosystems. Our analysis of southwestern US rangelands identified limited opportunities to enhance sequestration on intact rangelands, due primarily to low and erratic rainfall. We also identified potentially significant gains in the conversion of existing cropland to permanent vegetative cover, especially in areas with more reliable precipitation and mollisols. Increasing carbon storage on southwestern US rangelands will require programs that encompass large areas and implementation of new technologies to validate the changes in carbon.