Because grasslands and forests operate in complex feedback loops with both the atmosphere and soil, understanding how ecosystems respond to global changes in climate and element cycling is critical to predicting the range of global environmental changes--and attendant ecosystem responses--likely to occur. In a new study in the premier open access journal PLoS Biology Jeffrey Dukes, Christopher Field, and colleagues treated grassland plots to every possible combination of current or increased levels of four environmental factors--CO2, temperature, precipitation, and nitrogen influx--to simulate likely regional changes over the next 100 years. The results of their long-term experiment reveal that California grasslands, and ecosystems that respond similarly, are not likely to help buffer the rate of climate change by acting as a carbon "sink"--slowing the rise of CO2 levels by storing more carbon in new growth.
The experiments were part of the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment (JRGCE), which started on Stanfords 1,200-acre biological preserve in 1997. Since 1998, this grassland ecosystem has been outfitted with an ecologists version of a microclimate controller (complete with CO2 pumps, heaters, and irrigation tubing) and subjected to experimentally controlled atmospheric, climatic, and nutrient conditions. (This study examines the experiments first five years.) To quantify the grassland response to these treatments, the authors estimated net primary production, or NPP (the amount of carbon left over after cellular respiration) by measuring shoot and root growth in 36 circular plots scattered across roughly two acres. The strongest effects on grassland production came from elevated levels of nitrogen (which typically reaches a fertilization limit). Elevated temperature, rainfall, and, surprisingly, CO2, had minimal impacts. These results suggest that increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 are not likely to increase growth of the roots and leaves of plants in this grassland. Why not? One possibility involves phosphorus. High levels of CO2 and nitrogen can reduce phosphorus concentrations or limit its uptake in these plants. Ongoing JRGCE experiments are exploring how this and other factors--such as grazing or shifts in seasonal events--might limit the growth effects of CO2.
Its thought that ocean and terrestrial ecosystems have stored nearly half the carbon emissions produced by humans since the industrial revolution. If it turns out that other natural systems also fail to sequester as much carbon as scientists once thought, atmospheric CO2 concentrations will rise even faster than expected--with serious implications for future climate change.
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
19.09.2017 | Event News
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25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine
25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy