Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dryland ecosystems emerge as driver in global carbon cycle

22.05.2014

Dryland ecosystems, which include deserts to dry-shrublands, play a more important role in the global carbon cycle than previously thought. In fact, they have emerged as one of its drivers, says Montana State University faculty member Ben Poulter.

Surprised by the discovery, Poulter and his collaborators explained their findings in Nature. At the same time, they urged global ecologists to include the emerging role of dryland ecosystems in their research. Nature is a weekly international journal that publishes peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology.

"Our study found that natural events in Australia were largely responsible for this anomaly," Poulter said. "La Nina-driven rainfall during 2010 and 2011, as well as the 30-year greening up of its deserts and other drylands contributed to significant changes across the globe."

Poulter, who has a dual appointment in MSU's Department of Ecology and the Institute on Ecosystems, came to MSU in January. Before that, he worked in France at the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Envionnement (LSCE) where he contributed to compiling information for the Global Carbon Project's annual global carbon budget assessment.

... more about:
»Carbon »Dryland »LSCE »MSU »Montana »biosphere »dioxide »ecosystems »rainfall

He realized during that process that the world's land carbon sink in 2011 seemed to be absorbing an unusually large amount of carbon, Poulter said. Carbon dioxide moves constantly between land, oceans, vegetation and the atmosphere. When one of those absorbs more carbon dioxide than it releases, it's referred to as a carbon sink.

Poulter and his collaborators investigated the phenomena with a variety of data sets and modeling approaches. They eventually discovered surprising interactions between climate extremes and desert greening that increased in importance over the past 30 years. Further study showed that the dryland systems in the Southern Hemisphere, specifically Australia, had particularly high productivity in response to increased La Nina-phase rainfall.

"What surprised us was that no analogous biosphere response to similar climatic extremes existed in the past 30 years, prompting us to explore whether documented dryland-greening trends were responsible for changes in the carbon cycle dynamics," said Philippe Ciais, co-author and senior scientist at LSCE.

The authors discovered that an increase in the precipitation sensitivity of a range of ecosystems processes occurred between the periods of 1982-1996 and 1997-2011. One of those processes was the greening of desert vegetation. Together those processes led to a four-fold increase in net carbon uptake to precipitation over the past 30 years.

"Novel responses of the biosphere have been predicted to occur following human activities that have caused unprecedented changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, climate and land cover," Poulter continued. "Our study provides new evidence that interactions among these human activities are now also impacting dryland biomes. These findings have global implications that should be considered in monitoring networks and earth system models."

The large 2011 land carbon uptake is not expected to lead to long-term increases in ecosystem carbon accumulation, according to the researchers.

"Dryland systems have high rates of carbon turnover compared to other biomes," Ciais said. "We can expect the carbon to be quickly respired or consumed in wildfires, already partly reflected by the high atmospheric carbon dioxide growth rate in 2012."

In Poulter's new role at MSU, he said he will work with colleagues investigating the role of fire and invasive species in dryland systems to further understand the mechanisms for dryland greening and carbon cycle consequences.

Evelyn | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.montana.edu

Further reports about: Carbon Dryland LSCE MSU Montana biosphere dioxide ecosystems rainfall

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>