Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A shrinking sink? Carbon fertilization may be flimsy weapon against warming

16.02.2004


A growing body of evidence questions calculations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the land will automatically provide a significant, long-term carbon "sink" to offset some of the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists reported these findings today at the 2004 AAAS (Triple-A-S) Annual Meeting.



The latest information about carbon dioxide fertilization – by which plants soak up carbon from the atmosphere – "really paints a different picture of the way the world works," said panelist Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

In a book edited by Field and scheduled for publication in late February, researchers concluded that the land contains many large pools of carbon that are likely to shrink in the coming century.


A key reason for the differing conclusions, Field and his colleagues found, is that the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other studies have relied on models that don’t reflect some of the major processes by which carbon circulates through the environment.

Field and his colleagues also have discovered in a previous study that there may not be enough biologically available nitrogen to support certain optimistic estimates of the land’s capacity for carbon fertilization.

"If you put together these two lines of evidence, we’re looking at a future in which we may see less carbon being removed from the atmosphere," Field said.

"The fact that carbon dioxide fertilization is likely to be more modest does not imply that carbon management through planting trees is a bad idea," Field explained. "Planting trees is a great idea. It’s just that the trees will grow at their ’normal’ rates or slightly faster, rather than at supercharged rates."

Field co-organized the symposium with Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, pulling together speakers studying a variety of different landscapes, who met at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Jeff Dukes of the University of Massachusetts Boston has been monitoring changes in a California grassland, over five years of exposure to various types of environmental change. Presenting a new analysis covering five years of data, Dukes reported that their response to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide was minimal.

"Carbon dioxide may boost or suppress grassland productivity in some years, but over the longer term it’s pretty much a wash," Dukes said.

A seven-year study of a pine forest has produced similar results. According to William Schlesinger of the Nicholas School at Duke University, the Duke Forest Free Air Carbon Enrichment (FACE) experiment showed that enriching carbon dioxide in a young loblolly pine initially enhanced growth by 10 to 20 percent, with higher values in the driest years. But, various lines of evidence suggest that soil nutrients are deficient to support long-term growth stimulation, Schlesinger said.

Schlesinger stressed that planting trees is an effective way to sequester carbon, but "shouldn’t expect those trees to grow much faster in the high CO2 world of the future."

Ultimately, the Earth’s ability to take up carbon will depend on the oceans. The oceans have already absorbed some 400 billion tons of fossil fuel carbon dioxide, and this trend will continue; ocean uptake now is more than 20 million tons of carbon dioxide per day, according to Peter Brewer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

"But is this a blessing or a problem?" he asked.

Some researchers have considered direct ocean disposal of carbon dioxide, raising questions as to the impact of changing ocean acidity, or "pH" on marine life. Experiments to examine the impact of elevated carbon dioxide levels on the land are commonplace.

Brewer reported on the first small-scale ocean experiments, in which his research team added carbon dioxide to the deep-sea off California, and thus perturbed the pH of the surrounding ocean, exposing animals to waters that may simulate the ocean of the late 21st century.

He described some new experimental techniques that should make it possible to extend these types of experiments, making them both spatially larger and longer-lasting.

"It’s the only way to find out how coral reefs, deep-sea fisheries and other marine environments will react to a change in ocean pH; you have to do the experiment," he said.

Monica Amarelo | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aaas.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>