3.2.3 Fully integrated tools
Several countries utilise fully integrated tools for estimating emissions from forestlands(1). Descriptive case studies are provided in Appendix C. There are currently two operational fully integrated tools used for reporting to the UNFCCC: the Full Carbon Accounting Model of Australia (FullCAM) and the Carbon Budget Model for the Canadian Forest Sector (CBM-CFS3) (Box 13). Both have been used to develop multiple inventories in their respective countries and have also been applied in other countries(2). For example, the CBM-CFS3 has been applied by the Joint Research Centre of the EU to 26 EU countries providing a single consistent methodology to compare country-level submissions (Pilli et al., 2016). Both tools are freely available and, in the case of the CBM-CFS3, are backed with support including frequent training courses and email help systems.
Both FullCAM and the CBM-CFS3 are mass-balance frameworks that utilise a mix of empirical and process models to estimate emissions from all pools. The advantage of these frameworks is that all of the data (e.g., growth curves, emissions factors, model calibrations, activity data) are held externally to the systems and only drawn into the framework as required. This allows for data to be easily updated and for the development of projections (Stinson et al., 2011, Smyth et al., 2014, Australian Government, 2011).
Box 13: High level description of fully integrated tools
CBM-CFS3 : The CBM-CFS3 is an example of a flexible integration framework that can implement both spatially-referenced (Stinson et al., 2011, Kurz et al, 2008) and spatially-explicit approaches (both polygon (Trofymow et al., 2008) and pixel-based (Mascorro et al., 2015)) to simulate forest carbon dynamics as affected by forest growth, mortality, natural disturbances, forest management and land-use change. Moreover, the model can simulate a single stand, a region or several hundred million hectares of forests. Depending on available data, it can be scaled up from representing a small number of forest strata to representing many thousands of forest strata. The model has been applied in Canada, 26 European Union countries, Russia, Korea, Mexico, China and other regions. Because the model was developed more than 15 years ago, the main constraints in the toolbox arise from software and hardware limitations that make it difficult and impractical to scale the model to pixel-based approaches with millions of pixels. While some tools have been developed as interim solutions, work is under way to implement the scientific modules of the CBM-CFS3 on a new platform (FLINT).
FullCAM: The Full Carbon Accounting Model is another example of a flexible integration framework. Similar to the CBM-CFS3 it can operate using spatially-referenced or spatially-explicit approaches, but its main strength is running pixel-based systems. FullCAM can also model emissions from the entire land sector (both forest and non-forest land uses). FullCAM models both biological and management processes which affect carbon pools and transfers between pools in forest and agricultural systems. The exchanges of carbon, loss and uptake between the terrestrial biological system and the atmosphere are accounted for in the full, closed cycle mass balance model which includes all biomass, litter and soil pools (Waterworth & Richards 2008). Analysis and reporting includes all carbon pools (biomass, dead organic matter and soil), greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide).
FullCAM has been supporting the production of the Australian national greenhouse gas inventory since 2005. While drawing on pre-existing constituent models (like CamFOR and Roth-C), there were elements in the initial design that were Australian-specific and not designed with a broader international purpose in mind. Consequently, like all systems, implementation of country-specific models would require detailed support. On the other hand, much of the system is generic and Australian-specific elements are in the process of being standardised to ensure broader application.
FLINT : The Full Lands Integration Tool (FLINT) is a second generation integration tool currently under development through collaboration between Kenya, Australia and Canada. The need for FLINT arose as there were no existing integration tools that could meet all the needs of the Systems for Land-based Emissions in Kenya (SLEEK). Due to the cost of developing an integration tool it was decided to design the FLINT as a generic framework. This will allow other countries to easily use the same tool, hence reducing costs for others in the future. This will also increase transparency, comparability and validation of reported estimates.
The FLINT incorporates the lessons from the teams that developed the CBM-CFS3 and FullCAM. The core design features are:
- Full-mass balance framework that can meet all IPCC requirements
- A customisable platform to meet national policy and reporting requirements
- Modular system design that allows countries to easily add their own carbon modules
- Ability to run in spatially explicit and spatially referenced modes
- Ability to produce reports of past emissions and removals as well as projections in support of policy analyses such as REDD+ or mitigation scenarios
- Increased simulation speeds and ability to run on computer clusters and cloud frameworks, which will facilitate the use of tools in countries with limited computing resources
- Access to global data sets such as remote sensing time-series and climate data layers which can be used to augment regional and national data
- Flexible methods of representing all land uses.
FLINT is currently operating as a prototype, with initial full runs for the entire Kenyan land sector to occur in mid-2106. Canada has implemented most CBM-CFS modules on the FLINT platform and has verified the new module estimates against the CBM-CFS3. FLINT will be open source with a proposed management structure that will allow countries using the tool to make requests for enhancements and support, pending resource availability.
These tools support Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 methods.
Examples are described in more detail in Appendix C