Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Biomass turnover time in ecosystems is halved by land use

23.08.2016

In order to improve our understanding of climate change and to increase the predictability of future dynamics, it is necessary to gain a better understanding of the global carbon cycle. To date, little is known about the average time carbon is stored in biomass, before it passes back into atmosphere or soils (biomass turnover time), and the factors influencing this key parameter also remain largely unknown. Now, a new publication in Nature Geoscience shows that biomass turnover time in vegetation is halved as a result of human influence.

“One of the greatest uncertainties pertaining to our current understanding of climate change relates to the biomass turnover time, a key ecosystem parameter which determines the amount of carbon withdrawn from the atmosphere and is thus critical for climate change“, Karl-Heinz Erb (Institute of Social Ecology) explains. He and his colleagues are the first to calculate the human impact on the global biomass turnover time. This involved calculating the change in carbon turnover time by comparing the actual vegetation with a hypothetical vegetation state which hypothetically excludes any form of land use.


Traktor für Kohlenstoffumsatz

Dusan-Kostic-Fotolia

Quelle: Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

The results, which are presented in the current issue of Nature Geoscience, reveal that biomass turnover time is halved by land use. Erb further explains: “This acceleration affects all biomes more or less equally, though with significant differences between land-use types such as forestry or agriculture.

The conversion of forests to croplands results in massive acceleration effects, while the use of forests and natural grasslands is also significant, albeit at a considerably lower level per unit of area. However, from a global perspective, these land-use types affect large areas and thus their contributions is also significant.

While conversion of forests to croplands and pastures is responsible for 59 per cent of the acceleration, forestry contributes 26 per cent, and the use of natural grasslands for 15 per cent in total. This finding is noteworthy, because in most studies the effects of forestry and grazing are neglected and robust and adequate data sets are especially scant in this area.

Our study demonstrates that enhanced knowledge about the various forms of land use, including these more subtle ones, will be central to increasing the predictive capabilities with regard to carbon dynamics and future developments of climate change, for instance.”

Responding to the question about the potential implications of this acceleration for humanity, Erb specifies: “What we do know today, is that it affects climate change; what we don’t know yet, is to which extent it does so.”

But as the demand for biomass is growing very rapidly at the moment, this could lead to a further acceleration of the carbon cycle. This could affect the sink function of ecosystems, in other words, their capacity to withdraw carbon from the atmosphere and store it in long-living pools, a central naturel process slowing climate change, would gradually dwindle away. The results clearly illustrate that using biomass as a resource is not climate change neutral.

Erb, K.-H., Fetzel, T., Plutzar, C., Kastner, T., Lauk, C., Mayer, A., Niedertscheider, M., Körner, C., Haberl, H., 2016. Biomass turnover time in terrestrial ecosystems halved by land use. Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo2782.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.aau.at

Dr. Romy Müller | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Atmosphere Geoscience biomass carbon cycle croplands ecosystems land use natural grasslands

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis
13.12.2018 | National Science Foundation

nachricht NSF-supported scientists present new research results on Earth's critical zone
13.12.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magic number colloidal clusters

13.12.2018 | Life Sciences

UNLV study unlocks clues to how planets form

13.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis

13.12.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>