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Carbon Sequestration
Carbon Sequestration

Large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) are being emitted to the atmosphere by fossil-fuel combustion and other activities. Scientific observations have indicated that atmospheric CO2 concentrations are rising steadily, which may negatively impact the global climate and consequently affect the US environment and economy. Research around the globe is addressing mechanisms for reducing atmospheric CO2 levels. Land management options designed to increase terrestrial C inventories include improving present land use practices as well as land use conversion.

The objectives of the project are to:

  • Develop concepts that combine capture and storage of CO2 with concomitant reduction of criteria-pollutant emissions,
  • Demonstrate and verify large scale carbon sequestration by reforestation or post-mined lands using high value tree species, and
  • Change current mine reclamation practices and perceptions to allow loose-dumped material and forest establishment.
Abandoned and previously reclaimed mind lands in the Appalachian region may provide an excellent site for enhanced terrestrial carbon sequestration through reforestation. Given that these areas are essentially devoid of C after mining, the planting of forests is expected to dramatically affect carbon processes on those sites via carbon accumulation in soils and forest biomass. Managing these sites using sustainable forest practices may further enhance carbon sequestration rates to levels beyond those of undisturbed forests in the region.

Considering the low carbon status of newly mined sites, it is expected that considerable gains will be seen in both aboveground and belowground carbon storage over a relatively short time period. Our study results will not only enhance the understanding of carbon cycling in mined landscapes, but will add to the knowledge base from which reclamation specialist draw when planning future reclamations.

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