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Open Access Highly Accessed Systematic Review Protocol

Comparison of methods for measuring and assessing carbon stocks and carbon stock changes in terrestrial carbon pools. How do the accuracy and precision of current methods compare? A systematic review protocol

Gillian Petrokofsky1*, Hideki Kanamaru2, Frédéric Achard3, Scott J Goetz4, Hans Joosten5, Peter Holmgren6, Aleksi Lehtonen7, Mary CS Menton8, Andrew S Pullin9 and Martin Wattenbach10

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX13RB, UK

2 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Climate, Energy and Tenure Division (NRC), Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153, Rome, Italy

3 EC Joint Research Centre, Forest Resources and Climate Unit, TP 440, I-21027 Ispra (VA), , Italy

4 Woods Hole Research Center, 149 Woods Hole Road, Falmouth, MA, 02540-1644, USA

5 Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology, University Greifswald, Grimmer Strasse 88, 17487, Greifswald, Germany

6 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Climate, Energy and Tenure Division (NRC), Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153, Rome, Italy

7 Finnish Forest Research Institute, PL 18, FI-01301, Vantaa, Finland

8 Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), CIP, Apartado, 1558, Lima 12, Peru

9 Centre for Evidence-Based Conservation, School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, University of Bangor, Deiniol Road, Bangor, LL57 2UW, UK

10 Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 5.4, Hydrology, Telegrafenberg, C4 1.14, D-14473, Potsdam, Germany

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Environmental Evidence 2012, 1:6  doi:10.1186/2047-2382-1-6

Published: 21 June 2012

Abstract

Background

Climate change and high rates of global carbon emissions have focussed attention on the need for high-quality monitoring systems to assess how much carbon is present in terrestrial systems and how these change over time. The choice of system to adopt should be guided by good science. There is a growing body of scientific and technical information on ground-based and remote sensing methods of carbon measurement. The adequacy and comparability of these different systems have not been fully evaluated.

Methods

A systematic review will compare methods of assessing carbon stocks and carbon stock changes in key land use categories, including, forest land, cropland, grassland, and wetlands, in terrestrial carbon pools that can be accounted for under the Kyoto protocol (above- ground biomass, below-ground biomass, dead wood, litter and soil carbon). Assessing carbon in harvested wood products will not be considered in this review.

Discussion

Developing effective mitigation strategies to reduce carbon emissions and equitable adaptation strategies to cope with increasing global temperatures will rely on robust scientific information that is free from biases imposed by national and commercial interests. A systematic review of the methods used for assessing carbon stocks and carbon stock changes will contribute to the transparent analysis of complex and often contradictory science.