Asheville's Warm Winter

Asheville's Warm Winter
Asheville's climate has been relatively mild this year making for a very comfortable winter. That means right now is a perfect time to get outside to explore the forest. Here are some of the top places to go for a winter hike, complete with incredible views. (Also see What to Expect in Winter in Asheville.)

Speaking of climate, our friends at the AB-Tech Institute for Climate Education sent over an interesting new study that provides scientists with a ton of information about forests across the United States. This report shows Western North Carolina having one of the highest concentrations of biomass in the country, and as you'll read below, this plays an important role in the Earth's carbon cycle. Here's the full report: 

Where the Trees Are  . . . and Aren’t


Credit: NASA Earth Observatory map by Robert Simmon, based on multiple data sets compiled and analyzed by the Woods Hole Research Center

For the first time ever, researchers now have a detailed view of the forests across the lower 48 states. Taking 6 years to complete, the National Biomass and Carbon Dataset project mapped our nation’s forests at the highest resolution ever (30 meters), providing baseline information about tree height, forest structure and carbon storage capability in the year 2000.

It’s believed that as much as 45 percent of the carbon stored on land is tied up in trees. Western North Carolina’s unique climate has produced amazing biodiversity across our region and our important role in the Earth’s carbon cycle is evident in the dark green colors on the national map above. The map depicts the  concentration of biomass (a measure of the amount of organic carbon) stored in the trunks, limbs, and leaves of trees.  The darkest greens reveal the areas with the densest, tallest, and most robust forest growth.  

And while it’s interesting to see the important role that our forests play in the role of carbon storage - it’s the details of the new maps that will leave you stunned.

The image below is an up-close look at Western North Carolina/Eastern Tennessee taken from the national map. Heavily forested areas are dark green, lakes are light blue, and areas with less trees are lighter in color.  Can you make out the major population centers in the region?  If you look carefully – you can even see the corridors formed by major roadways such as I-40 through Buncombe County and Highway 19 through Madison and Yancey Counties.


Credit: NASA Earth Observatory map by Robert Simmon, based on multiple data sets compiled and analyzed by the Woods Hole Research Center


I’ve labeled some of the major points of interest in the image below to help you find your way around.


Credit: NASA Earth Observatory map by Robert Simmon, based on multiple data sets compiled and analyzed by the Woods Hole Research Center with annotation by Pamela McCown


You can find NASA’s story on the project here.

Want to learn more about our amazing planet?  Check out the classes offered by the Institute for Climate Education. They offer a variety of classes that will help you understand how the weather and climate of Western North Carolina have helped to create this region’s amazing biodiversity.

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