Clark University will receive $542,098 in grants from the National Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA) to explore the carbon uptake and release in forests across the United States. The recipient is Christopher A. Williams, an associate professor in Clark’s Graduate School of Geography.
Williams is the head of a research team that received a previous grant from NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CSM) to study how much carbon U.S. forests release and absorb. The team will use new remote-sensing products to document these carbon exchanges.
Williams is working with another research team that received a previous NASA grant to study forests in the Southeast U.S. Clark reported that this team is studying forest dynamics and will issue the information from the study to be used along with data collected from agricultural, transportation and energy sectors.
The CSM study will use the new remote-sensing products to study forest carbon absorption and release across the U.S. on regional and national levels. This study will use a reporting framework to forecast the carbon balance in forests after experiencing destructive scenarios, like forest fires and logging.
These studies help to determine how much carbon a forest releases into the atmosphere. Williams explained that when harvested or burned, the carbon a forest releases oxidizes with air and turns into carbon dioxide, a contributor to global warming. According to Clark, the clearing of forests has released about one-third of the carbon emissions caused by humans, with two-thirds resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels.