Forests are a critical player when it comes to the carbon cycle. Every year, forests store more than 1.0 x 1015 metric tons of carbon in biomass, detritus, and soils (Dixon et al.). The storing of this carbon dioxide is very important to our planet and threshold that allows humans to thrive. Climate change is occurring, but would be accelerating much faster without carbon sinks like our forests that store the carbon dioxide humans have emitted. Carbon sequestration is defined as “the prevention of greenhouse gas build-up in the earth's atmosphere by methods such as planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide or pumping carbon dioxide into underground reservoirs” (Collins English Dictionary). Trees are able to sequester and store carbon through the process of photosynthesis: 6H20 + 6CO2 + light energy → C6H12O6 + 6O2.
At St. Lawrence University, the institution has a climate action plan that sets a goal of becoming carbon net-zero by 2040. In order to meet that goal, the school has to reduce its carbon emissions in various ways such as increasing energy efficiencies or purchasing renewable energy credits. However, since the institution is endowed with a few thousand trees, we [St. Lawrence University] should include carbon sequestration as a scope to meet our climate action goal by 2040. In order to account for the sequestered carbon, it is important to note how to go about measuring the storing of carbon dioxide in trees and accessing a few mechanisms that promote the accounting of carbon sequestration as a viable solution to climate change mitigation such as Chicago Climate Exchange and REDD+.
To measure how much carbon is stored, it is easier to separate the two carbon sequestration mechanisms: storing above ground in the tree itself and storing carbon in the soil. Another factor in determining the carbon stock is the size of the area being measured. Certain methods are more applicable to measuring large or small plot sizes than other methods. For smaller plots that can be measured easily by going out into the field, the data will be more precise to the amount carbon that is sequestered by the tree above and below ground. For estimation purposes, I will only cover a few techniques to measure above ground carbon storage.
There are several ways in which it can be measured, they are: fixed area plots, point sampling with prisms, meteorological, and using satellite radar. Fixed area plots and point sampling prisms both use allometric equations method to estimate biomass from measured tree dimensions. With fixed area plots and point sampling prisms determine the tree dimensions such as diameter at breast height (DBH). Prism sampling is an efficient technique for larger stands. Fixed area plots require more time and tend to be more specific about what trees lie in the measured plot. See the document Tool for Estimation of Stocks in Carbon Pools and Emissions from Emission Sources under references to view the extensive formula...