Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study yields mixed results on potential for pine trees to store extra carbon dioxide

09.08.2005


Southern pines appear to grow and conserve water somewhat better in the carbon-dioxide-enriched atmosphere expected by mid-century, a Duke University study has found. However, any growth spurts appear to diminish over time, due at least in part to the kind of hot and dry weather that likely may become more common in the future. Thus, the researchers concluded, enhanced growth of pines may not constitute a long-term sink for human-produced carbon dioxide which might ameliorate global warming.



These findings of a growth ring and wood chemistry study will be described by Duke graduate student Ashley Ballantyne at 9 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2005, during the Ecological Society of America’s 2005 national meeting in Montreal.

Ballantyne, a fourth-year doctoral student in paleoclimatology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, did his study with research associate Jeffrey Pippen at the Free-Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FACE) experiment http://face.env.duke.edu/main.cfm.


At the FACE site in Duke Forest, near the university campus, stands of loblolly pines and other tree species are receiving extra CO2 through tower-borne valves under otherwise natural conditions. Results from the enriched trees are compared with those in matched controlled plots not treated with enhanced carbon dioxide.

The FACE experiment is designed to emulate the atmospheric environment that plants will be subjected to if CO2 levels continue to increase as expected due to human activities such as fossil fuel burning. Ballantyne’s and Pippen’s work was funded by the United States Department of Energy.

Ballantyne said he and Pippen evaluated the pine trees’ response to higher-than-normal CO2 levels by measuring annual growth rings in cores extracted from treated and control trees.

Their analysis revealed that pines under elevated CO2 levels experienced 25 percent extra growth in 1999, and a lower 17 percent and 21 percent boost, respectively, during the two previous years. The 1999 level was the maximum measured to date.

Those previous years, 1997 and 1998, "coincided with one of the highest magnitude el Niño events ever recorded," Ballantyne said in an interview. "We suspect el Niño plays some role in regulating soil moisture, probably due to extreme temperatures and changes in seasonal precipitation patterns."

After those most elevated years, enhanced growth in the CO2 began dropping unevenly in a zigzag fashion. In 2000 it was 19 percent. By 2004 it was down to .01 percent. Those years of declining enhancements were marked by "an approximately 15 percent decline in soil moisture during the growth season," he said.

In fact, the uneven year-to-year growth differences seemed more closely related to soil moisture -- the water available for use by the trees -- than to other possible factors. Increased temperatures may cause a decline in soil moisture, thereby suppressing growth, he said.

Other possible factors in growth declines would include the tree stands’ increasing ages, and the relatively low amounts of nitrogen in Duke Forest soils drained of nutrients by previous farming, he said.

The Duke researchers also studied how the gas-enriched trees processed carbon dioxide and water by analyzing cellulose in extracted tree wood samples.

During photosynthesis, carbon is drawn from the atmosphere as carbon dioxide to be incorporated into tree tissue, Ballantyne said. At the same time, water is drawn in from the soil through the roots, and some of that water eventually escapes into the atmosphere. Analyzing the chemistry of cellulose "can tell us the relative amounts of carbon gain versus water loss," he added.

The Duke investigators found that under higher-than-normal carbon dioxide levels "more carbon is being drawn in and less water is being emitted into the atmosphere," Ballantyne said. "In future climates, this might be a way for loblolly pines to deal better with water stress or drought."

Most scientists agree that the growing carbon dioxide levels are trapping enough heat to induce global warming. And loblollies and other fast-growing trees have been suggested as possible "sinks" to lock some of the excess carbon dioxide in long-term storage.

Overall, the Duke researchers’ findings suggest extra carbon dioxide might enhance loblolly water-use efficiency. But the results may provide less reassurance for proponents of loblolly sink, Ballantyne acknowledged.

"A world with double CO2 is undoubtedly going to be warmer," he said. "However predictions for precipitation changes are not as clear, with some climate models predicting dryer conditions and others wetter.

"If we do see dryer conditions, we might expect less carbon to be stored."

Monte Basgall | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu
http://face.env.duke.edu/main.cfm

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

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: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>