Hurricanes cause severe impacts on forest ecosystems in the United States. These events can substantially alter the carbon biogeochemical cycle at local to regional scales. We selected all tropical storms and more severe events that made U.S. landfall between 1900 and 2011 and used hurricane best track database, a meteorological model (HURRECON), National Land Cover Database (NLCD), U. S. Department of Agirculture Forest Service biomass dataset, and pre- and post-MODIS data to quantify individual event and annual biomass mortality. Our estimates show an average of 18.2 TgC/yr of live biomass mortality for 1900–2011 in the US with strong spatial and inter-annual variability. Results show Hurricane Camille in 1969 caused the highest aboveground biomass mortality with 59.5 TgC. Similarly 1954 had the highest annual mortality with 68.4 TgC attributed to landfalling hurricanes. The results presented are deemed useful to further investigate historical events, and the methods outlined are potentially beneficial to quantify biomass loss in future events.
Additional publication details
The carbon cycle and hurricanes in the United States between 1900 and 2011
Nature Publishing Group
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center