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Posts tagged: greenhouse gas emissions

Our Forests and Climate Change

Americans know the importance of forests to our communities and our economy.  They provide jobs and recreational opportunities, filter our air and water, and make up essential habitat for wildlife and natural resources.  But increasingly, we’re also recognizing that forests play an important role in mitigating climate change.

Recently, President Obama announced a Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare for the impacts of climate change on our communities and economy, and lead international efforts to combat global climate change. This plan recognizes that America’s forests play a critical role in addressing carbon pollution, absorbing as much as 14 percent of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions each year.  Over the last several decades, forest regrowth on former farm lands, reforestation, and maturing forests have kept our forest growth rates high, helping us absorb even more carbon. Read more »

COMET-Farm™: Conservation Calculation

Healthy soil captures and stores carbon. Photo by Ron Nichols, NRCS

Healthy soil captures and stores carbon. Photo by Ron Nichols, NRCS

USDA’s new online carbon-capture calculator, COMET-Farm™, has nothing to do with comets. This tool is all about farms and their potential to help planet Earth. Since its recent release more than 4,200 visitors have already explored the new online COMET-Farm™ tool to learn how they can become part of the climate change solution.

Record-breaking concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are accelerating climate change. Agriculture has the unique opportunity to help contribute to a solution, as demonstrated by COMET-Farm™.

“When farmers use conservation practices, they improve soil health,” NRCS air quality scientist Dr. Adam Chambers says. “Healthy soil captures and stores carbon, effectively removing it from the atmosphere.” Read more »

Paris Air Show a Hit for USDA Partners

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Most people don’t equate aviation with agriculture, but two USDA partners, Washington State University (WSU) and members of a Texas 4-H Club, received the chance to participate in the 2013 Paris Air Show, which was held June 17-23.

In 2010, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded WSU with a $40 million grant to develop effective alternative biofuels for commercial and military jets. The project, the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), is working to convert closed timber mills into bioenergy development centers, which will improve the economic potential of rural communities affected by the downturn in timber production. The team is focusing on feedstock development, sustainable forest production and establishing new methods to identify the most promising plant lines for biofuel conversion. NARA aims to develop a regional source of renewable aviation fuel for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Read more »

USDA’s 2012 Sustainability Scorecard

USDA’s 2012 Sustainability Scorecard showcases the Department’s ongoing commitment to meeting goals that reduce indirect greenhouse gas emissions, decrease energy use per square foot, increase renewable energy use, decrease potable water use per square foot, and incorporate sustainable building practices in new and existing buildings.

In 2012, USDA made significant progress in reducing indirect GHG emissions, largely associated with employee travel and commuting, resulting in an 18 percent reduction in indirect GHG emissions. In 2012, USDA consumed nearly 39,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy, which translates to enough green energy to meet more than seven percent of the Department’s electricity use. Read more »

ARS Labs Unravel Genetics of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

SASL team member graduate student Milutin Djurickovic samples greenhouse gases in the long-term Farming Systems Project. (Photo credit Michel Cavigelli)

SASL team member graduate student Milutin Djurickovic samples greenhouse gases in the long-term Farming Systems Project. (Photo credit Michel Cavigelli)

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Understanding the causes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agricultural landscapes is truly a multi-scale challenge, with GHG sources ranging from whole plant, to the microscopic microbe level.  For example, denitrification, the production of nitrous oxide, is the result of the action of just a few unique enzymes produced by a small number of bacteria and fungi in the soil.  These small players have huge importance because nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Increases in nitrous oxide and other GHGs have been implicated in major global changes such as increased mean annual temperatures, resulting in melting glaciers, increasing floods, and more frequent heat waves. Read more »

Secretary Tom Vilsack Speaking Today at Climate Change Conference

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is speaking today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, at 2:30 p.m. EST.  He will be addressing actions that USDA is taking to strengthen the role of agriculture and forestry in helping to address climate change. The Secretary will discuss ways landowners can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration while improving their financial bottom line. The speech will be streamed live via web broadcast and the public is invited to watch his presentation at:    http://www.connectsolutions.com/cop16/index.html at 2:30 p.m. today. Read more »