National Biomass and Carbon Dataset

nbcdScientists at the Woods Hole Research Center have produced a high-resolution “National Biomass and Carbon Dataset for the year 2000” (NBCD2000), the first ever spatially explicit inventory of its kind. The dataset was produced as part of a project funded under NASA’s Terrestrial Ecology Program with additional support from the Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools Project (LANDFIRE). The project has generated a high-resolution (30 m), year-2000 baseline estimate of basal area-weighted canopy height, aboveground live dry biomass, and standing carbon stock for the conterminous United States.

Development of the dataset is based on an empirical modeling approach that combines USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data with high-resolution InSAR data acquired from the 2000 Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) and optical remote sensing data acquired from the Landsat ETM+ sensor. Three-season Landsat ETM+ data were systematically compiled by the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium (MRLC) between 1999 and 2002 for the entire U.S. and were the foundation for development of both the USGS National Land Cover Dataset 2001 (NLCD 2001) and the LANDFIRE project. Products from both the NLCD 2001 (landcover and canopy density) and LANDFIRE (existing vegetation type) projects as well as topographic information from the USGS National Elevation Dataset (NED) are used within the NBCD 2000 project as spatial predictor layers for canopy height and biomass estimation. Forest survey data provided by the USDA Forest Service FIA program were made available to the project under a national Memorandum of Understanding. The response variables (canopy height and biomass) used in model development and validation were derived from the FIA database. Production of the NLCD 2001 and LANDFIRE projects was based on a mapping zone approach in which the conterminous U.S. is split into 66 ecoregionally distinct mapping zones. This approach was also adopted by the NBCD 2000 project. Data products are provided on a zone-by-zone basis.

For questions on the NBCD2000 project please


Map Details

Albers Conic Equal Area, North American Datum 1983 (NAD83)

Biomass Layer
Please for access.
30 m postings, 153,811 columns x 96,522 rows (35 GBytes)

Base Layers
USGS Hyrosheds Elevation and Hillshade Data (
Natural Earth (

Dataset Citation
Kellndorfer, J., Walker, W., LaPoint, E., Bishop, J., Cormier, T., Fiske, G., Hoppus, M., Kirsch, K., and Westfall, J. 2012. NACP Aboveground Biomass and Carbon Baseline Data (NBCD 2000), U.S.A., 2000. Data set. Available on-line at from ORNL DAAC, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A.

The NBCD2000 dataset is also available at NASA ORNL DAAC: and ESRI’s ArcGIS online (with full Zoom capability).

The production of the NBCD Canopy Height and Aboveground Live Dry Biomass Layers comes at a time when understanding and quantifying the carbon balance for North America is more important than ever. This spatially explicit, high resolution (30 m) dataset of vegetation height, biomass, and carbon stock is the first of its kind and provides a baseline from which to detect future changes.

Fly-over of southeastern Georgia and the Altamaha River valley. The three-dimensional scene was created by draping the NBCD Vegetation Canopy Height layer over elevation data acquired by the NASA/DLR Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). Where shades of pink grade into green, vegetation height increases from light to dark. Light pinks and whites represent non-vegetated areas. In this ever-changing commercial forestry environment, areas of intact and clear-cut forests are evident, as are areas that have been cleared for agriculture. In such a dynamic environment, methods for large scale monitoring of biomass are crucial for carbon accounting.

Copyright Information
Map © 2011 by The Woods Hole Research Center

Dr. Josef Kellndorfer, Dr. Wayne Walker; WHRC

Project Team
Tina Cormier, Jesse Bishop, Greg Fiske, Katie Kirsch; WHRC
Elizabeth LaPoint; USDA Forest Service, FIA Program

Colin Homer; USGS National Land Cover Database/MRLC Team
Dean Gesch; USGS National Elevation Dataset
Michael Hoppus, James Westfall; USDA Forest Service

NASA Terrestrial Ecology Program
Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools Project (LANDFIRE)
Software support from PCI Geomatics, Esri, Definiens

Kellndorfer, J., Walker, W., LaPoint, E., Cormier, T., Bishop, J., Fiske, G., & Kirsch, K. (In review). Vegetation height, biomass, and carbon stock for the conterminous United States: A high-resolution dataset from Landsat ETM+, SRTM-InSAR, National Land Cover Database, and Forest Inventory and Analysis data fusion.

Kellndorfer, J., Walker, W., LaPoint, E., & Kirsch, K. (2010). Statistical fusion of LiDAR, InSAR, and optical remote sensing data for forest stand height characterization: A regional-scale method based on LVIS, SRTM, Landsat ETM+, and ancillary data sets. Geophysical Research Letters. 115:G00E08.

Walker, W., Kellndorfer, J., LaPoint, E., Hoppus, M., & Westfall, J. (2007). An empirical SRTM-based approach to mapping vegetation canopy height for the conterminous United States. Remote Sensing of Environment, 109:482-499.

Walker, W., Kellndorfer, J., & Pierce, L. (2007). Quality assessment of SRTM C- and X-band interferometric data: Implications for the estimation of vegetation canopy height. Remote Sensing of Environment, 106:428-448.

Kellndorfer, J., Walker, W., Pierce, L., Dobson, M., Fites, J., Hunsaker, C., Vona, J., & Clutter, M. (2004). Vegetation height estimation from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and National Elevation Datasets. Remote Sensing of Environment, 93:339-358.