Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Two global pollutants work to offset each other, according to Colorado study

07.01.2003


University of Colorado at Boulder researchers have found, ironically, that two pollutants - carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons emitted from agricultural forest trees - offset each other somewhat in mitigating air quality problems.



Carbon dioxide, believed by scientists to be a major factor in greenhouse warming, has been shown to reduce "agriforest" emissions of hydrocarbons that contribute to ground-based ozone pollution, according to CU-Boulder doctoral candidate Todd Rosenstiel of the environmental, population and organismic, or EPO, biology department.

Commercial agriforests made up of trees including poplars, Eucalyptus and Acacia emit high levels of isoprene, a highly reactive chemical species believed to contribute heavily to ground-based ozone, said Rosenstiel, co-chief author of the study.


While this may seem like a good thing environmentally to some people, Rosenstiel is more cautious. "The effects of CO2 are unpredictable. The bigger picture is the rapidly growing amount of these agriforests worldwide emitting hydrocarbons like isoprene in much larger volumes.

"We still do not know enough about the basic chemistry and biochemistry of isoprene to predict what may happen in the future," Rosenstiel said. "One thing we have shown is that ’tweaking’ environmental conditions where such trees grow through changes in water consumption, temperature and soil conditions may have significant effects on isoprene emissions."

As people replace natural forests with agriforests, the species do produce significant amounts of hydrocarbons like isoprene," said Russell Monson, chair of CU-Boulder’s EPO biology department. "The news here is that we have found a situation where elevated CO2 concentrations work in a positive way to reduce pollution from isoprene, that combines with sunlight and vehicle and industrial pollution to form smog and related lung problems in people."

A paper on the subject was published electronically today by Nature magazine. The primary authors are Rosenstiel and Mark Potosnak of Columbia University, now with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. Other authors include Kevin Griffin of Columbia University, Ray Fall of CU-Boulder and Monson.

Fall, a professor of the chemistry and biochemistry department at CU-Boulder, said about 500 million tons of isoprene are emitted into Earth’s atmosphere each year. The Southeast U.S. has large amounts of forest trees contributing to the isoprene emissions, said Fall, who also is a member with Monson at the CU-headquartered Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES.

CIRES is a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder.

The CU-Boulder team’s work, combined with research in the Biosphere II near Tucson, Ariz., primarily by Columbia University researchers, indicates it may be possible to genetically engineer environmentally friendly poplar trees by lessening their isoprene output, said Fall.

"As almost all commercial agriforest species emit high levels of isoprene, proliferation of agriforest plantations has significant potential to increase regional ozone pollution and enhance the lifetime of methane, an important determinant of global climate," the researchers wrote in Nature.

The Fall and Monson groups have been growing poplar trees in the chemistry and biochemistry department greenhouse in an attempt to isolate leaf cells and chloroplasts -- small bodies located inside plant cells that contain chlorophyll. They discovered that increases in CO2 in the laboratory caused the isoprene emissions from the leaf cells to decrease, a finding duplicated at the Biosphere II facility.

They currently are working on a number of further research projects related to the isoprene activity, including inhibiting an enzyme inside the plant cells that appears to control the amount of isoprene emitted by trees.


Contact: Todd Rosenstiel, (303) 492-5304
Todd.rosenstiel@colorado.edu
Ray Fall, (303) 492-7914
R.Fall@colorado.edu
Russell Monson, (303) 492-6319
monson@colorado.edu
Jim Scott, (303) 492-3114

Todd Rosenstiel | EurekAlert!

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht When corals eat plastics
24.05.2018 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

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: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When corals eat plastics

24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Surgery involving ultrasound energy found to treat high blood pressure

24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering

First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR

24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>