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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Special Submissions

Carbon Sequestration Potential in Reclaimed Mine Sites in Seven East-Central States


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 35 No. 4, p. 1428-1438
    Received: May 1, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): Mark.Sperow@mail.wvu.edu
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  1. Mark Sperow *
  1. P.O. Box 6108, Division of Resource Management, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506-6108


Terrestrial systems represent a significant potential carbon (C) sink to help mitigate or offset greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 3.2 Mha are permitted for mining activities in the United States, which are required to be reclaimed with vegetative cover. While site-specific studies have assessed C accumulation on reclaimed mine sites, regional analyses to estimate potential C increases have not been conducted. For this analysis, potential C sequestration is analyzed on 567 000 ha of mine land in a seven-state region reclaimed to cropland, pasture, or forest. Carbon accumulation is estimated for cropland, pasture, and forest soils, forest litter layer, and aboveground biomass by estimating average annual rates of C accumulation from site-specific and general C sequestration studies. The average annual rate of C storage is highest when mine land is reclaimed to forest, where the potential sequestration is 0.7 to 2.2 Tg yr−1 The C from soils, litter layer, and biomass from mine lands reclaimed to forest represents 0.3 to 1.0% of the 1990 CO2 emissions from the study region (919 Tg CO2). To achieve the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goal of 7% below the 1990 level as proposed by the Kyoto Treaty requires CO2 emissions in the study area to be reduced by just over 64 Tg CO2 The potential carbon storage in mine sites reclaimed to forest could account for 4 to 12.5% of these required reductions.

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