Incorporating tree-height data into calculations of the amount of carbon stored in tropical forests reduces the estimates by roughly 13%.

Ted Feldpausch of the University of Leeds, UK, and his team analysed data from 327 tropics-wide plots, as well as 20 sites where tropical trees have been cut down, collecting data on factors such as the weight and height of the trees, and their carbon density. The team found that information on tree height was crucial for making accurate biomass estimates, and that the relationship between height and carbon storage varied by region.

The authors underscore the importance of including better data in biomass maps, in which field measurements are increasingly being integrated with remote-sensing data to improve accuracy.

Biogeosciences 9, 3381–3403 (2012)