PROGRAM TITLE:  	Analysis of Terrestrial Carbon Sinks
ACTIVITY STREAM:  	Process Studies
SCIENCE ELEMENT:  	Biogeochemical Dynamics

TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY (TVA)

SCIENTIFIC MERIT:  The degree to which terrestrial systems are able to 
capture and sequester carbon is an important uncertainty In both modeling 
carbon flux and in the development of mitigation and CO2 offset strategies.  
Most efforts in this area to date have been either national or global in scale.  
However, it is important to address this question regionally since this is the 
most likely level at which reductions and options will be evaluated and 
instituted.  GIS date bases provide an excellent opportunity to inventory and 
delineate both existing carbon stores and assess the potential for future storage 
at the  regional level.  

This project would first determine existing conditions to determine if further 
storage potential exists in the currently forested areas and more importantly 
the extent of areas that might lend themselves to either afforestation or to the 
production of woody biomass fuels as dedicated plantations. Urban areas 
would also be evaluated to determine how much of an impact an aggressive 
urban tree planting program could have within the region.  Based on these 
analyses and ongoing research activities, the carbon storage potential within 
the region could be assessed and options for carbon dioxide offsets evaluated 
within the next two years.  

More specifically, this project will use the TVA region as a case study to:  (1) 
inventory standing pools of carbon in soils and forests in the region; (2) 
determine the areas best suited to serve as long-term sites for carbon 
sequestration in soils and plants, including urban areas; and (3) assess the 
magnitude of opportunities to create carbon dioxide offsets using soil and 
plant sequestration options.  This effort will be based exclusively on extant 
data bases which have been subjected to quality assurance procedures during 
their development.  Data manipulations will be conducted within standard 
GIS software frameworks and final analyses and products will be summarized 
in a peer-reviewed technical journal.  

STAKEHOLDERS:  EPA and state regulators along with public and private 
policy and environmental interests.  Linkages exist with the U.S. Forest 
Service Southern Global Change Program.  Linkages are likely with the Soil 
Conservation Service, and Department of Energy (Oak Ridge National 
Laboratory).  

POLICY RELEVANCE:  Increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide raise 
significant concerns with respect to changes in both the physical and chemical 
climate.  In anticipation of a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels 
within the next few decades, policy and regulatory groups are assessing 
available options to both slow the rate and reverse the trend of increasing 
atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.  One option being considered would be the 
granting of carbon dioxide offsets based on either long-term afforestation to 
sequester carbon in conventional forests or the use of biomass plantations as a 
means of reducing the consumption of fossil fuels while achieving some 
carbon sequestration in the soil as well.  Obviously, these options are 
important from a power production perspective.  However, it should be 
realized that from a natural resource management perspective, the potential 
value of woody fuels in existing forests will put greater pressure on the 
utilization of these materials and so it is important to be in a position to 
determine both the positive and negative impacts of this option on the 
carbon dioxide balance.  

PROGRAM CONTACT:  James F. Meagher, TVA, P.O. Box 1010, Muscle 
Shoals, AL 35660, (205) 386-2342 (Programmatic); J. M. Kelly, TVA Cooperative 
Forest Studies Program, P.O. Box 2008, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6038, (615) 574-
7815 (Scientific).