Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Amazon trees much older than assumed, raising questions on global climate impact of region

14.12.2005


Older trees may have less capacity for taking in carbon dioxide



Trees in the Amazon tropical forests are old. Really old, in fact, which comes as a surprise to a team of American and Brazilian researchers studying tree growth in the world’s largest tropical region.

Using radiocarbon dating methods, the team, which includes UC Irvine’s Susan Trumbore, found that up to half of all trees greater than 10 centimeters in diameter are more than 300 years old. Some of the trees, Trumbore said, are as much as 750 to 1,000 years old. Study results appear in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


“Little was known about the age of tropical trees, because they do not have easily identified annual growth rings,” added Trumbore, a professor of Earth system science. “No one had thought these tropical trees could be so old, or that they grow so slowly.”

And for Trumbore, who studies how forests and the atmosphere exchange carbon, these discoveries can have implications for the role the Amazon plays in determining global carbon dioxide levels. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas implicated in accelerated global warming and the focus of international efforts to curb its atmospheric levels.

Because their trees are old and slow-growing, the Amazon forests, which contain about a third of all carbon found in land vegetation, have less capacity to absorb atmospheric carbon than previous studies have predicted. Although some of the largest trees also grow the fastest and can take up carbon quickly, the vast majority of the Amazon trees grow slowly.

“In the Central Amazon, where we found the slowest growing trees, the rates of carbon uptake are roughly half what is predicted by current global carbon cycle models,” Trumbore said. “As a result, those models – which are used by scientists to understand how carbon flows through the Earth system – may be overestimating the forests’ capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

As part of the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA), the researchers revealed an interesting portrait of tree life beneath the limbs of the large trees that dominate tropical forests. They found that most Amazon basin trees are so old because they grow very slowly on nutrient-poor soils in dark shade under the canopy of large trees. The growth rates they measured for Central Amazon trees are among the slowest in any forest on Earth. These results, Trumbore points out, are contrary to the widely held view that tropical forests are highly dynamic.

“In addition, the impact of logging activity in the Amazon region may be longer-lasting than we think,” Trumbore added, “because it may take centuries for these forests to grow back to their full size.”

Some of the older trees found in the study included economically valuable species. For example, three Brazil nut trees measured in the study ranged in age from 680 to 1,000 years.

Supported by NASA, the LBA is a Brazilian-led international scientific program with the goal of studying how the Amazon forest affects global climate and carbon dioxide. The work was a cooperative effort among researchers at the University of Sao Paulo, University of Acre and the Institute for Amazonian Research in Brazil, and UCI and Tulane University in the U.S. Radiocarbon measurements were made at the W.M. Keck Carbon Cycle Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility at UCI.

About the University of California, Irvine: Celebrating 40 years of innovation, the University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,400 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.

Tom Vasich | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.today.uci.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University

nachricht New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

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...

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

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>