The finding that most trees' growth accelerates as they age suggests that large, old trees may play an unexpectedly dynamic role in removing carbon from the atmosphere.
Tree measurement data from forests around the world shows that many trees do not slow in their growth rate as they get older and larger; instead, their growth keeps accelerating.
Credit: Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Archives
Richard Condit, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, devised the analysis to interpret measurements from more than 600,000 trees belonging to 403 species.
"Rather than slowing down or ceasing growth and carbon uptake, as we previously assumed, most of the oldest trees in forests around the world actually grow faster, taking up more carbon," Condit said. "A large tree may put on weight equivalent to an entire small tree in a year."
"If human growth would accelerate at the same rate, we would weigh half a ton by middle age and well over a ton at retirement," said Nate Stephenson, lead author and forest ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Whether accelerated growth of individual trees translates into greater carbon storage by aging forests remains to be seen. Programs like the United Nations REDD+ are based on the idea that forest conservation and reforestation mitigate global warming by reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
In 1980, the first large-scale tree plot was established in Panama in an effort to understand why tropical forests were so diverse. More than 250,000 trees with trunk diameters greater than 1 centimeter were identified and measured within a 50-hectare area.
"ForestGEO is now the foremost forest observatory system in the world with 53 plots in 23 countries and more than 80 partner institutions," said Stuart Davies, ForestGEO director. "We hope that researchers continue to work with our data and our staff as they ask new questions about how forests respond to global change."
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems.
New research recovers nutrients from seafood process water
31.10.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology
Plant Hormone Makes Space Farming a Possibility
17.10.2018 | Universität Zürich
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
19.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.11.2018 | Information Technology
19.11.2018 | Life Sciences