Free emissions accounting tools and data for regional NRM planning

The Australian Greenhouse Office has just released a National Carbon Accounting Toolbox and Data Viewer. These products have great potential for project or regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) planning. They were developed in collaboration with the CSIRO, the Australian National University and Geoscience Australia and are supported by NASA.

The National Carbon Accounting Toolbox (available on CD) provides a set of tools for tracking greenhouse gas emissions and carbon stock changes from land use and management. Ultimately, the Toolbox will assist land managers to monitor emissions effectively and to identify more sustainable (less emissions intensive) land management practices.

The Toolbox provides access to the Full Carbon Accounting Model (FullCAM) including modelling software and supporting technical documentation that is used to construct Australia’s national greenhouse account for the land sector. FullCAM is derived from the National Carbon Accounting System – Australia’s world leading land based emissions accounting system.

FullCAM accounts for changes in major greenhouse gases (including carbon stocks), nitrogen cycling and human induced land use practices. Simply by modifying inputs, users may identify changes in emissions resulting from:

  • use of different plant species or soil types
  • soil cultivation
  • fire management
  • fertiliser application
  • changes in climate
  • other activities.

Users may access carbon accounting data for a range of plant species and land management systems, and historic climate records, as well as search all technical reports relating to development of the National Carbon Accounting System.

For land managers, this will ensure their project or regional emissions accounts are determined on a similar basis to Australia’s official recording of emissions for the land sector. It will also ensure they are able to make informed decisions on how their actions affect the atmosphere.

Coupled with the Toolbox is a Data Viewer (available on DVD) that contains a unique 30 year visual record of landscape and vegetation change in Australia since 1972, as seen through several national snapshots of satellite data. Users can zoom into any area of the continent and compare satellite images and climatic data between years. This provides a quick and ready means for assessing change over the last 30 years, based on the calibrated imagery of the National Carbon Accounting System.

For instance, the Data Viewer can be used at the property or regional scale, to assess:

  • where tree cover has changed
  • which areas have changed the most in recent times
  • where tree planting has been most effective
  • how much tree cover remains along the river systems
  • which areas should be targeted for rehabilitation.

In many areas the Data Viewer will show considerable change from drought effects in recent times. A handy measuring tool, included with the Data Viewer, can be used to assess relative change in tree cover or water bodies in different regions. The Data Viewer also provides climate statistics for each region, including average climate trends, such as rainfall and temperature. The satellite images and data may also be used on handheld palmtop computers, providing an invaluable aid to vegetation planning for those involved in field work.

For more information visit www.greenhouse.gov.au/ncasm

To request a free copy of these products, email ncas @greenhouse.gov.au with your postal details. Allow two weeks for delivery.

Detailed satellite imagery from 1989 and 2002 is currently available online via the Australian Natural Resources Atlas at http://audit.deh.gov.au/mapping/index.cfm The complete satellite data library (13 national snapshots taken over the past 30 years) is also available at minimal cost of transfer via Geoscience Australia. To order this source data please email ncas@greenhouse.gov.au.