Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Are tropical forests resilient to global warming?

11.03.2013
Tropical forests are less likely to lose biomass – plants and plant material - in response to greenhouse gas emissions over the twenty-first century than may previously have been thought, suggests a study published online this week in Nature Geoscience.

In the most comprehensive assessment yet of the risk of tropical forest dieback due to climate change, the results have important implications for the future evolution of tropical rainforests including the role they play in the global climate system and carbon cycle.

To remain effective, programmes such as the United Nation's Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation+ scheme require rainforest stability, in effect locking carbon within the trees.

The research team comprised climate scientists and tropical ecologists from the UK, USA, Australia and Brazil and was led by Dr Chris Huntingford from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in the UK.

Dr Huntingford and colleagues used computer simulations with 22 climate models to explore the response of tropical forests in the Americas, Africa and Asia to greenhouse-gas-induced climate change. They found loss of forest cover in only one model, and only in the Americas. The researchers found that the largest source of uncertainty in the projections to be differences in how plant physiological processes are represented, ahead of the choice of emission scenario and differences between various climate projections.

Although this work suggests that the risk of climate-induced damage to tropical forests will be relatively small, the paper does list where the considerable uncertainties remain in defining how ecosystems respond to global warming.

Lead author Dr Chris Huntingford, from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in the UK, said, "The big surprise in our analysis is that uncertainties in ecological models of the rainforest are significantly larger than uncertainties from differences in climate projections. Despite this we conclude that based on current knowledge of expected climate change and ecological response, there is evidence of forest resilience for the Americas (Amazonia and Central America), Africa and Asia."

Co-author Dr David Galbraith from the University of Leeds said, "This study highlights why we must improve our understanding of how tropical forests respond to increasing temperature and drought. Different vegetation models currently simulate remarkable variability in forest sensitivity to climate change. And while these new results suggest that tropical forests may be quite resilient to warming, it is important also to remember that other factors not included in this study, such as fire and deforestation, will also affect the carbon stored in tropical forests. Their impacts are also difficult to simulate. It is therefore critical that modelling studies are accompanied by further comprehensive forest observations."

Co-author Dr Lina Mercado from the University of Exeter and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, "Building on this study, one of the big challenges that remains is to include, in Earth system models, a full representation of thermal acclimation and adaptation of the rainforest to warming."

The research team came from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UK), National Center for Atmospheric Research (USA), The Australian National University (Australia), CCST/Inst Nacl Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) (Brazil), James Cook University (Australia), University of Leeds (UK), University of Oxford (UK), University of Exeter (UK), University of Sheffield (UK), Met Office Hadley Centre (UK), University College London (UK), and the University of Edinburgh, (UK).

Editors notes

To obtain a copy of the paper in advance of publication please contact the Nature press office. Email: press@nature.com

Further information:

Lead author, Dr Chris Huntingford (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK)
Mobile: +44 (0) 7884 437138; Email: chg@ceh.ac.uk
Dr Barnaby Smith (Media Relations Manager, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK)
Mobile: +44 (0) 7920 295384; Email: bpgs@ceh.ac.uk
This research was supported by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the UK NERC QUEST, TROBIT and AMAZONICA (NE/F005806/1) initiatives, the Moore Foundation, the Natural Environment Research Council, ARC-Australia, joint DECC and Defra Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme funding, the Brazilian Research Council, the Sao Paulo State Research Foundation, the European Research Council and the Royal Society.

Reference: Chris Huntingford, Przemyslaw Zelazowski, David Galbraith, Lina M. Mercado, Stephen Sitch, Rosie Fisher, Mark Lomas, Anthony P.Walker, Chris D. Jones, Ben B. B. Booth, Yadvinder Malhi, Debbie Hemming, Gillian Kay, Peter Good, Simon L. Lewis, Oliver L. Phillips, Owen K. Atkin, Jon Lloyd, Emanuel Gloor, Joana Zaragoza-Castells, Patrick Meir, Richard Betts, Phil P. Harris, Carlos Nobre, Jose Marengo and Peter M. Cox 'Simulated resilience of tropical rainforests to CO2-induced climate change' will be published in Nature Geoscience on 10 March 2013. http://www.nature.com/naturegeoscience. The DOI for this paper will be 10.1038/NGEO1741

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) is the UK's Centre of Excellence for integrated research in the land and freshwater ecosystems and their interaction with the atmosphere. CEH is part of the Natural Environment Research Council, employs more than 450 people at four major sites in England, Scotland and Wales, hosts over 150 PhD students, and has an overall budget of about £35m. CEH tackles complex environmental challenges to deliver practicable solutions so that future generations can benefit from a rich and healthy environment. http://www.ceh.ac.uk You can follow the latest developments in CEH research via twitter and our rss news feed

NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing world-class research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. It coordinates some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, food security, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on earth, and much more. NERC receives around £300m a year from the government's science budget, which it uses to fund research and training in universities and its own research centres. http://www.nerc.ac.uk

Dr. Barnaby Smith | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ceh.ac.uk

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past
28.04.2017 | National Science Foundation

nachricht Citizen science campaign to aid disaster response
28.04.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>