Uncharted Forests Measuring Carbon
Man’s Voice: We’re about to finish the Fourteen…
Ambience: rainforest, hammering, research team in action
We’re in the Peruvian Amazon with a team that’s measuring and counting the rainforest trees hoping to use their data to help control the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Emrick: The major aim of our work at our research site is to measure the forest.
Verl Emrick is a research scientist at the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech.
Emrick: We will use these measurements to calculate how much carbon is in these forests in order to use this as a conservation area for both biodiversity and serve the local communities surrounding the forest.
Emrick: Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. All plants do that, but in particular in the tropics large amounts of carbon dioxide are absorbed by the trees. These trees then through a series of chemical processes, turn it into carbon based elements that are in the trees. That is why we are measuring the trees in order to determine the total amount of carbon absorbed by these trees through photosynthesis.
In order to measure the carbon that is captured by photosynthesis in the trees, we actually have to measure the height and size of the trees to determine how much carbon is maintained in the trees.
Once we’ve measured the trees in a single plot, we actually go to a series of plots throughout the entire property. The resulting figures we get are tons of carbon per acre.
Once we determine the amount of carbon on that acre maintained in the forest, we then can use geographic information systems to portray that over the entire forest.
Man’s Voice: OK, this one is twenty-four point four.
The information gathered by Verl Emrick and his team will be used to reduce carbon emissions worldwide. We’ll hear more in future programs. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.