Global warming is driven by the increase in concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due primarily to fossil fuel combustion. Changes in land use, such as deforestation for agriculture, represent a smaller fraction, roughly 15%, of CO2 emissions each year.
The global carbon cycle describes the exchanges of carbon between the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land and fossil fuels. WHRC scientists have been calculating the land portion of the global carbon budget for decades — identifying where and how much carbon is stored on land around the globe, and where and how much carbon is being emitted to or taken out of the atmosphere. Using the same approach, WHRC scientists have also begun to identify those lands where management could remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Global Carbon Cycle (pdf)
Each year, WHRC determines the land-use emissions for the annual update of the Global Carbon Project which documents global changes in the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide. Using forests to help stabilize CO2 concentrations has been discussed for many years, but recent WHRC research has translated the capacity of forest management to bridge the decades of fossil fuel transition.
WHRC has an internship program designed to inspire and educate the next generation of carbon scientists. Visit the Careers & Internships page.