Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Complex Carbon Picture Clearer

12.12.2007
Study shows that more plant litter resulting from higher CO2 could boost the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere

A new study looks at a poorly understood process with potentially critical consequences for climate change. Emma Sayer, postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Jennifer Powers, an assistant professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, and Edmund Tanner, researcher at Cambridge University, published the findings of their long-term study on the effects of increased plant litter on soil carbon and nutrient cycling in the December 12 edition of PLoS ONE.

As CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise, increases in plant productivity – and litterfall – are likely. The study considers the impact of an increase in organic matter on the ground on processes belowground. Results suggest that the balance of carbon stored in the soils (thought to be a long-term sink for carbon) can be changed with the addition of fresh leaf litter. The capacity of soils to store carbon might then diminish if global environmental changes such as CO2 increases and nitrogen deposition boost plant productivity.

Over the course of the 5-year experiment, the fluxes of carbon dioxide from the soil surface to the atmosphere in a tropical forest in Panama were measured. These CO2 fluxes (also called soil respiration) come from two main sources: the respiration of roots and the decomposition of litter and soil organic matter by fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms.

“To our surprise, the litter addition plots showed substantially higher amounts of soil respiration than would be predicted by the increase in leaf litter,” said Powers. “We suspect that this extra CO2 in the litter addition plots was coming from the decomposition of ‘old soil organic matter’, which was stimulated by adding large quantities of fresh leaf litter.” This effect, the stimulation of the decomposition of old, ‘stored’ organic carbon by the addition of fresh organic matter is known as the ‘priming effect.’ “There are important links between above-and belowground processes and we need to understand these links in order to assess the impact of global change and human disturbance on natural ecosystems” said Sayer.

The study has implications for policy makers considering new approaches to capping carbon emissions such as carbon sequestration. “Our results suggest unanticipated feedbacks to the carbon cycle that must be taken into account when estimating the potential for carbon sequestration in the soil,” Powers said.

Emma Sayer of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Cambridge University is the lead author of the study. Edmund Tanner, also of Cambridge University, and Jennifer Powers of the University of Minnesota are co-authors.

Citation: Sayer EJ, Powers JS, Tanner EVJ (2007) Increased Litterfall in Tropical Forests Boosts the Transfer of Soil CO2 to the Atmosphere. PLoS ONE 2(12): e1299. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001299

Andrew Hyde | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0001299
http://www.plos.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Treating ships’ ballast water: filtration preferable to disinfection
30.07.2015 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Are Fish Getting High on Cocaine?
28.07.2015 | McGill University

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: Quantum Matter Stuck in Unrest

Using ultracold atoms trapped in light crystals, scientists from the MPQ, LMU, and the Weizmann Institute observe a novel state of matter that never thermalizes.

What happens if one mixes cold and hot water? After some initial dynamics, one is left with lukewarm water—the system has thermalized to a new thermal...

Im Focus: On the crest of the wave: Electronics on a time scale shorter than a cycle of light

Physicists from Regensburg and Marburg, Germany have succeeded in taking a slow-motion movie of speeding electrons in a solid driven by a strong light wave. In the process, they have unraveled a novel quantum phenomenon, which will be reported in the forthcoming edition of Nature.

The advent of ever faster electronics featuring clock rates up to the multiple-gigahertz range has revolutionized our day-to-day life. Researchers and...

Im Focus: Superfast fluorescence sets new speed record

Plasmonic device has speed and efficiency to serve optical computers

Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.

Im Focus: Unlocking the rice immune system

Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight

A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...

Im Focus: Smarter window materials can control light and energy

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.

By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Euro Bio-inspired - International Conference and Exhibition on Bio-inspired Materials

23.07.2015 | Event News

Clash of Realities – International Conference on the Art, Technology and Theory of Digital Games

10.07.2015 | Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine in Leipzig: Last chance to submit abstracts until 2 July

25.06.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tool making and additive technology exhibition: Fraunhofer IPT at Formnext

31.07.2015 | Trade Fair News

First Siemens-built Thameslink train arrives in London

31.07.2015 | Transportation and Logistics

California 'rain debt' equal to average full year of precipitation

31.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>