Banner for LabNotes
From Lab Notes
Contact Information
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


You are here: FPL Home  / Information Products & Services  / Publications

Requested Product

Title: Ring profiler: a new method for estimating tree-ring density for improved estimates of carbon storage

Source: In: Morin, Randall S.; Liknes, Greg C., comps. Moving from status to trends: Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) symposium 2012; 2012 December 4-6; Baltimore, MD. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-105. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. [CD-ROM]: 386-390.

Author(s)Vahey, David W.; Scott, C. Tim; Zhu, J.Y.; Skog, Kenneth E.

Publication Year: 2012  View PDF »

Category: Conference Proceedings
Associated Research Project(s):   FPL-4709-3B   FPL-4851-CMB

Abstract: Methods for estimating present and future carbon storage in trees and forests rely on measurements or estimates of tree volume or volume growth multiplied by specific gravity. Wood density can vary by tree ring and height in a tree. If data on density by tree ring could be obtained and linked to tree size and stand characteristics, it would be possible to more accurately predict changes in density and weight of tree biomass with projected changes in tree size and stand characteristics. Ring Profiler is a patented method for characterizing the structure of softwood tracheids and their changes from one tree ring to another over time. Measurements can be converted to density and can be multiplied by volume to estimate total weight and weight of carbon by ring. A sample displaying pith-to-bark ring structure is prepared from a radial core and scanned beneath a microscope as images are taken. Despite the sample’s thickness (up to 6mm) it is possible to image it with light transmitted from below using a single light-emitting diode (LED) for illumination. Near-infrared radiation (NIR) from the LED is captured by tracheid walls and travels efficiently to the viewing surface, much as light travels through an optical fiber. NIR captured by lumens tends to be absorbed by particulate matter introduced during sample preparation. The result is a high-contrast image in which tracheid walls are bright, lumens are dark and the interface is sharp. Images containing approximately 400 tracheids each are processed by ImageJ, public software available from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Measurements include the distribution of radial and tangential diameters and wall thicknesses, from which local density can be estimated and applied to improved estimates of carbon storage. Over time, measurements from Ring Profiler can increase our understanding of tree response to stress.

Keywords: statistics; estimation; sampling; modeling; remote sensing; forest health; data integrity; environmental monitoring; cover estimation; international forest monitoring

Publication Review Process: Informally Refereed (Peer-Reviewed)

File size: 683 kb(s)

Date posted: 02/06/2013

This publication is also viewable on Treesearch:  view
RITS Product ID: 63299
Current FPL Scientists associated with this product (listed alphabetically)
Skog, Kenneth E.
Supervisory Research Forester
Zhu, JunYong
Research General Engineer

Additional items that might interest you
View the video celebrating FPL's 100 years of public service in 2010, from the producers of the Greatest Good....view

Research Highlights from FPL....view

Termite Eradication: A search for the Holy Grail.... view

Moisture Management in Residential Construction Series videos...view

Wood Floor Systems in Residential Construction Series videos....view
- FPL's Mission and Strategic Plan -

FPL's mission is to identify and conduct innovative wood and fiber utilization research that contributes to conservation and productivity of the forest resource, thereby sustaining forests, the economy, and quality of life. ... ..more »

- FPL Research Emphasis Areas -
Advanced Composites

As an integral part of the FPL mission, we improve the long-term sustainability of our Nation's forests by creating valuable composite products from biobased materials ... ..more »

Advanced Structures

The FPL has been in the forefront of wood-frame housing research since 1910 and has long been recognized as a world leader in such housing-related areas as engineered wood ... ..more »

Forest Biorefinery

We all know the compelling reasons that the United States needs to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Historically, the greatest increases in energy demand have been for transportation fuels ... ..more »


A leader in wood products research for over a century, the FPL is positioning itself to become the lead Federal research facility for the application of nanotechnology in forest products ... more »

Woody Biomass Utilization

Forests in the United States contain a substantial amount of small-diameter, overstocked, and underutilized material.FPL research projects are exploring the potential of the small-diameter ... ..more »