Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Two global pollutants work to offset each other, according to Colorado study

07.01.2003


University of Colorado at Boulder researchers have found, ironically, that two pollutants - carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons emitted from agricultural forest trees - offset each other somewhat in mitigating air quality problems.



Carbon dioxide, believed by scientists to be a major factor in greenhouse warming, has been shown to reduce "agriforest" emissions of hydrocarbons that contribute to ground-based ozone pollution, according to CU-Boulder doctoral candidate Todd Rosenstiel of the environmental, population and organismic, or EPO, biology department.

Commercial agriforests made up of trees including poplars, Eucalyptus and Acacia emit high levels of isoprene, a highly reactive chemical species believed to contribute heavily to ground-based ozone, said Rosenstiel, co-chief author of the study.


While this may seem like a good thing environmentally to some people, Rosenstiel is more cautious. "The effects of CO2 are unpredictable. The bigger picture is the rapidly growing amount of these agriforests worldwide emitting hydrocarbons like isoprene in much larger volumes.

"We still do not know enough about the basic chemistry and biochemistry of isoprene to predict what may happen in the future," Rosenstiel said. "One thing we have shown is that ’tweaking’ environmental conditions where such trees grow through changes in water consumption, temperature and soil conditions may have significant effects on isoprene emissions."

As people replace natural forests with agriforests, the species do produce significant amounts of hydrocarbons like isoprene," said Russell Monson, chair of CU-Boulder’s EPO biology department. "The news here is that we have found a situation where elevated CO2 concentrations work in a positive way to reduce pollution from isoprene, that combines with sunlight and vehicle and industrial pollution to form smog and related lung problems in people."

A paper on the subject was published electronically today by Nature magazine. The primary authors are Rosenstiel and Mark Potosnak of Columbia University, now with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. Other authors include Kevin Griffin of Columbia University, Ray Fall of CU-Boulder and Monson.

Fall, a professor of the chemistry and biochemistry department at CU-Boulder, said about 500 million tons of isoprene are emitted into Earth’s atmosphere each year. The Southeast U.S. has large amounts of forest trees contributing to the isoprene emissions, said Fall, who also is a member with Monson at the CU-headquartered Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES.

CIRES is a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder.

The CU-Boulder team’s work, combined with research in the Biosphere II near Tucson, Ariz., primarily by Columbia University researchers, indicates it may be possible to genetically engineer environmentally friendly poplar trees by lessening their isoprene output, said Fall.

"As almost all commercial agriforest species emit high levels of isoprene, proliferation of agriforest plantations has significant potential to increase regional ozone pollution and enhance the lifetime of methane, an important determinant of global climate," the researchers wrote in Nature.

The Fall and Monson groups have been growing poplar trees in the chemistry and biochemistry department greenhouse in an attempt to isolate leaf cells and chloroplasts -- small bodies located inside plant cells that contain chlorophyll. They discovered that increases in CO2 in the laboratory caused the isoprene emissions from the leaf cells to decrease, a finding duplicated at the Biosphere II facility.

They currently are working on a number of further research projects related to the isoprene activity, including inhibiting an enzyme inside the plant cells that appears to control the amount of isoprene emitted by trees.


Contact: Todd Rosenstiel, (303) 492-5304
Todd.rosenstiel@colorado.edu
Ray Fall, (303) 492-7914
R.Fall@colorado.edu
Russell Monson, (303) 492-6319
monson@colorado.edu
Jim Scott, (303) 492-3114

Todd Rosenstiel | EurekAlert!

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Loss of habitat causes double damage to species richness
02.04.2019 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Deep decarbonization of industry is possible with innovations
25.03.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

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: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

Im Focus: Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties

Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>