Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Philip Radtke; David Walker; Jereme Frank; Aaron Weiskittel; Clara DeYoung; David MacFarlane; Grant DomkeChristopher WoodallJohn CoulstonJames Westfall
    Date: 2017
    Source: Forestry
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Northern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    Accurate estimation of forest biomass and carbon stocks at regional to national scales is a key requirement in determining terrestrial carbon sources and sinks on United States (US) forest lands. To that end, comprehensive assessment and testing of alternative volume and biomass models were conducted for individual tree models employed in the component ratio method (CRM) currently used in the US' National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The CRM applies species-specific stem volume equations along with specific gravity conversions and component expansion factors to ensure consistency between predicted stem volumes and weights, and additivity of predicted live tree component weights to match aboveground biomass (AGB). Data from over 76 600 stem volumes and 6600 AGB observations were compiled from individual studies conducted in the past 115 years – what we refer to as legacy data – to perform the assessment. Scenarios formulated to incrementally replace constituent equations in the CRM with models fitted to legacy data were tested using cross-validation methods, and estimates of AGB were scaled using forest inventory data to compare across 33 states in the eastern US. Modifications all indicated that the CRM in its present formulation underestimates AGB in eastern forests, with the range of underestimation ranging from 6.2 to 17 per cent. Cross-validation results indicated the greatest reductions in estimation bias and root-mean squared error could be achieved by scenarios that replaced stem volume, sapling AGB, and component ratio equations in the CRM. A change in the definitions used in apportioning biomass to aboveground components was also shown to increase prediction accuracy. Adopting modifications tested here would increase AGB estimates for the eastern US by 15 per cent, accounting for 1.5 Pg of C currently unaccounted for in live tree aboveground forest C stock assessments. Expansion of the legacy data set currently underway should be useful for further testing, such as whether similar gains in accuracy can be achieved in estimates of regional or national-scale C sequestration rates.

    Publication Notes

    • Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
    • Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
    • During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
    • Please contact Sharon Hobrla, if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Radtke, Philip; Walker, David; Frank, Jereme; Weiskittel, Aaron; DeYoung, Clara; MacFarlane, David; Domke, Grant; Woodall, Christopher; Coulston, John; Westfall, James. 2017. Improved accuracy of aboveground biomass and carbon estimates for live trees in forests of the eastern United States. Forestry. 90(1): 32-46.


    Google Scholar

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page