New study looks at 43 regions in Latin America
Climate scientists have long recognized the importance of forest conservation and forest regrowth in climate mitigation and carbon sequestration -- capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. But the detailed information required to make accurate estimates of this potential has remained elusive.
Now, an international team of 60 scientists, working together as the 2ndFOR Network, has completed studies on the effects of forest conservation and secondary forest regeneration across 43 regions in Latin America.
In an article titled "Carbon sequestration potential of second-growth forest regeneration in the Latin American tropics," published today in the journal Science Advances, University of Connecticut ecologist and evolutionary biologist Robin Chazdon and her colleagues report a series of new findings.
"This study uses knowledge gained from long-term studies of tropical forests to address a pressing societal need," says Saran Twombly, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research through NSF's Long Term Research in Environmental Biology, and Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems, programs. "It shows that natural processes can provide a solution to the excess carbon dioxide threatening the planet."
The studies aimed to model the areas covered by regrowth forests across the lowlands of the Latin American Tropics in two age classes; to project potential above-ground carbon storage in these young forests over four decades; and to illustrate alternative scenarios for carbon storage where 0-80 percent of these forests are allowed to regenerate.
Chazdon says that "this research is vital because actively growing vegetation takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and converts it to plant tissues such as wood and leaves. Old-growth forests contain large stocks of carbon in their biomass. When these forests are cleared and burned, this carbon is released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. This is one of the main reasons why it is important to halt deforestation."
But scientists have also learned that when forests regrow, their carbon stocks in above-ground biomass increase over time, depending on climate, prior land use and features of the surrounding landscape.
"This regrowth can happen without planting trees, through the spontaneous process of natural regeneration," says Chazdon. "This is a low-cost way of restoring forests and of reaching carbon mitigation goals."
Among the major findings of the study are:
Forest-based climate change solutions
Chazdon says that, remarkably, this huge amount of carbon storage doesn't require costly tree plantings or conversion of farmlands. "It is all based on natural forest regrowth and only requires persistence and protection of the young forests and abandoned agricultural fields."
Forest-based solutions provide many other benefits, including hydrologic regulation, habitats and corridors for conserving biodiversity, and provision of non-timber forest products to local people, Chazdon says.
Prior carbon storage efforts have placed emphasis on avoiding deforestation. But, Chazdon says, "avoiding deforestation and supporting forest regeneration are complementary and mutually reinforcing activities."
While forest regeneration and protection alone cannot fully compensate for greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale, researchers say the study affirms that this strategy can contribute significantly toward reaching national and international carbon mitigation targets.
Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Six-decade-old space mystery solved with shoebox-sized satellite called a CubeSat
15.12.2017 | National Science Foundation
NSF-funded researchers find that ice sheet is dynamic and has repeatedly grown and shrunk
15.12.2017 | National Science Foundation
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences