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Re-assessing Vegetation Carbon Storage and Emissions from Land Use Change in China Using Surface Area

He, Qingsong, Tan, Shukui, Xie, Peng, Liu, Yaolin, Li, Jing
Chinese geographical science 2019 v.29 no.4 pp. 601-613
biomass, carbon, carbon sequestration, digital elevation models, emissions, forest land, grasslands, land use change, landscapes, mountains, surface area, China
Land surface area estimation can provide basic information for accurately estimating vegetation carbon storage under complex terrain. This study selected China, a country dominated by mountains, as an example, and calculated terrestrial vegetation carbon storage (VCS) for 2000 and 2015 using land surface area and traditional ellipsoid area. The land surface area is estimated by a triangular network on the high precision digital elevation model. The results showed that: 1) The VCS estimated by the surface area measurement in 2000 and 2015 were 0.676 and 0.692 Pg C (1 Pg = 10¹⁵ g) higher than the VCS calculated using the ellipsoid area, respectively. 2) As the elevation increases, the differences between VCS estimated by surface area measurement and ellipsoid area measurement are expanding. Specially, a clear gap was present starting from an elevation of 500 m, with the relative error exceeds 8.99%. 3) The total amount of carbon emitted due to land use change reached 0.114 Pg C. The conversions of forestland and grassland to other land use type are the main reasons of the loss of vegetation carbon storage, resulting in a total amount of biomass carbon storage decreased by 0.942 and 0.111 Pg C, respectively. This study was a preliminary exploration of incorporating land surface area as a factor in resource estimation, which can help more accurately understand the status of resources and the environment in the region.