Comparison of calculation methods for estimating annual carbon stock change in German forests under forest management in the German greenhouse gas inventory

Carbon Balance Manag. 2016 Jun 22;11(1):12. doi: 10.1186/s13021-016-0053-x. eCollection 2016 Dec.


Background: The German greenhouse gas inventory in the land use change sector strongly depends on national forest inventory data. As these data were collected periodically 1987, 2002, 2008 and 2012, the time series on emissions show several "jumps" due to biomass stock change, especially between 2001 and 2002 and between 2007 and 2008 while within the periods the emissions seem to be constant due to the application of periodical average emission factors. This does not reflect inter-annual variability in the time series, which would be assumed as the drivers for the carbon stock changes fluctuate between the years. Therefore additional data, which is available on annual basis, should be introduced into the calculations of the emissions inventories in order to get more plausible time series.

Results: This article explores the possibility of introducing an annual rather than periodical approach to calculating emission factors with the given data and thus smoothing the trajectory of time series for emissions from forest biomass. Two approaches are introduced to estimate annual changes derived from periodic data: the so-called logging factor method and the growth factor method. The logging factor method incorporates annual logging data to project annual values from periodic values. This is less complex to implement than the growth factor method, which additionally adds growth data into the calculations.

Conclusion: Calculation of the input variables is based on sound statistical methodologies and periodically collected data that cannot be altered. Thus a discontinuous trajectory of the emissions over time remains, even after the adjustments. It is intended to adopt this approach in the German greenhouse gas reporting in order to meet the request for annually adjusted values.

Keywords: Above ground biomass; Below ground biomass; CO2; Carbon stock; Emission factor; Greenhouse gases; National forest inventory; National greenhouse gas inventory; Stock-difference method.