Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ORNL-led study shows forests thrive with increased CO2 levels

09.12.2005


Forest productivity may be significantly greater in an atmosphere enriched with carbon dioxide, according to findings released today that challenge recent reports that question the importance of carbon dioxide fertilization.



The study, performed by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and 10 other institutions in the United States and Europe, revealed a strong relationship between productivity of forest plots in the current atmosphere and productivity in plots experimentally enriched with carbon dioxide.

"The median response indicated a 23 percent increase in productivity in the future atmosphere," said ORNL’s Rich Norby, lead author of the paper to be published Dec. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "What was especially surprising to the research team was the consistency of the response across a wide range of productivity."


Researchers analyzed data from four experiments in which young forest stands were exposed for multiple years to an atmosphere with a carbon dioxide concentration predicted to occur in the middle of this century. The experiments were conducted in a deciduous forest in Tennessee, a pine forest in North Carolina, a young hardwood stand in Wisconsin and a high-productivity poplar plantation in Italy.

The team calculated net primary productivity - the annual fixation of carbon by green plants into organic matter - for each of the sites from data on wood, leaf and fine-root production. The results proved surprising.

"When we got together to analyze these data, we expected to spend our time explaining the differences between sites," said Norby, a member of ORNL’s Environmental Sciences Division. "We were really surprised and excited when all of the data fell neatly onto a single line."

More detailed analysis of the data revealed the mechanisms of the forest productivity response. In forest stands with a relatively low amount of leaf area, the response to elevated carbon dioxide levels was explained by increased absorption of light. With greater leaf area, however, the response was an increased efficiency of conversion of light energy to organic matter. In separating the overall response into leaf area and light-use efficiency, the analysis meshes well with broader scale analyses based on satellite imagery, Norby said.

Norby notes that this analysis will be especially valuable as a benchmark to evaluate predictions of ecosystem and global models.

"Climate change predictions are dependent on assumptions about the interaction between the biosphere and atmosphere," Norby said. "However, the contribution of carbon dioxide fertilization to the future carbon global carbon cycle has been uncertain and the models are poorly constrained by experimental data. The close agreement of the productivity predictions of models with the new experimental data should add confidence to overall model results."

Norby cautioned against viewing these results as a reason to ignore the steadily increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

"Although carbon dioxide fertilization of forests might slow the rate of increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a 23 percent increase in productivity is insufficient to stabilize the concentration in the atmosphere," he said. "The increase in productivity demonstrated in these experiments will most likely be tempered by the stresses of climate warming, ozone pollution or insufficient nitrogen supply. In addition, some of the increased organic matter entering the forest is not sequestered in wood but is rapidly returned to the atmosphere. Understanding the controls on carbon processing by ecosystems remains a priority research challenge."

This study, funded primarily the DOE’s Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research and the National Science Foundation, reinforces earlier findings and challenges reports that question the importance of carbon dioxide fertilization based on observations of a few trees.

UT-Battelle manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy.

Ron Walli | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ornl.gov

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>