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Landcover and observation sites in the Willamette Valley    nnClass trip to the grass site within the Willamette Valley

Carbon dynamics within Oregon's urban-suburban-forested-agricultural landscapes


B.E. Law
A. Schmidt
C. Still
T. Hilker



Land management strategies and land use within urban-suburban, agricultural and forested landscapes can have significant impacts on local and regional carbon, water and energy cycles, but their gross and net effects are complex and not well understood. As a result, a better understanding of the interactions and feedbacks between ecological systems, human actions, and changes in climate is needed to drive the decision making process at local to landscape and regional scales.

We are studying the effects of land use and land cover on carbon, water and energy exchange with the atmosphere in current and future climates across a gradient of urban-suburban agricultural and forested landscapes. The approach integrates new time-series analysis of satellite data to discriminate land cover changes, tall tower CO2 observations, and tower flux data and modelling of the surface-atmosphere exchange of carbon dioxide, water, and energy..  

Oregon has strong gradients from high population/high forest productivity/mesic climate in the west to low population/low productivity/arid climate in the east, and land use is changing to reduce GHG emissions. The study focuses on (1) the effects of conversion of semi-arid sagebrush to irrigated bioenergy production on carbon, water and energy cycling, and resulting heating or cooling effects, and (2) the effects of afforestation of idle land and rangelands deemed suitable for forests or poplar crops on exchanges of carbon, water and energy under future climate conditions.

Questions are: How do current land uses and cover affect carbon dynamics, and carbon, water and energy exchanges, including cooling/warming effects? Given possible climate trajectories, what land-use strategies will reduce carbon dioxide emissions while optimizing sustainability of native vegetation, food crops and bioenergy crops?


Terrestrial Ecosystems Research & Regional Analysis - Pacific Northwest
Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331
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