Major World Ecosystem Complexes Ranked by Carbon in Live Vegetation: A Database (Revised
J. S. Olson, J. A. Watts, and L. J. Allison
In 1980, this data base and the corresponding map were completed after more than 20 years of
field investigations, consultations, and analyses of published literature. They characterize the use
and vegetative cover of the Earth's land surface with a 0.5° × 0.5° grid. This
world-ecosystem-complex data set and the accompanying map provide a current reference base
for interpreting the role of vegetation in the global cycling of CO2 and other gases
and a basis for improved estimates of vegetation and soil carbon, of natural exchanges of
CO2, and of net historic shifts of carbon between the biosphere and the atmosphere.
The data are presented in two alternative files: one matrix file of 122 kB, providing latitude,
longitude, and ecosystem code; and one flat file (simpler format and additional information on
ecosystem name; gridcell area; and medium, revised medium, minimum, and maximum estimates
of carbon density) of 16.8 MB uncompressed or 2 MB compressed.
NDP-017 includes the following data and documentation files:
- original matrix data file of latitude, longitude, and
- compressed flat data file (ndp017_g.dat.Z)* of latitude, longitude, ecosystem
code, ecosystem name, gridcell area, and carbon densities (medium, revised medium, minimum,
- ascii documentation file
- fortran input statement for the original matrix data file
- global ecosystem map, in both gif and postscript formats
- table providing information on ecosystem types and
carbon densities (medium, revised medium, minimum, and maximum)
- compressed ARC/INFO export file (olson-carbon.e00.Z)* for geographic
information system (GIS) users, and the accompanying ascii documentation file
Users should also note that updated versions of this database are available from other sources.
Ecosystems (WE1.4) database is available from the National Geophysical Data Center as part
of its Global Ecosystems Database
(GED) Version II (2000).
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