Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New research suggests delay in autumn colour is caused by increased atmospheric CO2 not global warming

15.11.2007
The delay in autumnal leaf coloration and leaf fall in trees is caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and not by increased global temperatures, suggests a new study by researchers at the University of Southampton.

In recent years, woodland autumnal colour changes have been occurring later in the season whilst re-greening in spring has been occurring earlier. During the last 30 years across Europe, autumnal senescence – the process of plant aging where leaves discolour and then fall – has been delayed by 1.3 - 1.8 days a decade. To date, this has been explained by global warming, with increasing temperatures causing longer growing seasons.

However, while a strong correlation has been observed between increased global temperatures and earlier spring re-greening and bud break, the correlation between autumn leaf colour change and fall and temperature trends in 14 European countries is weak.

Over the 30 years that progressive delays in autumnal senescence have been observed, atmospheric CO2 has risen by 13.5 per cent. Experimental studies show that increased atmospheric CO2 affects plant physiology and function, influencing a myriad of processes.

The Southampton researchers undertook two large forest ecosystem experiments in which poplar (Populus) trees in separate plots were exposed to either ambient or elevated levels of CO2 from planting to maturity. The elevated concentration was at 550 parts per million, proposed as representative of concentrations that may occur in 2050. Changes in the tree canopy were measured by remote sensing.

The trees exposed to elevated CO2 retained their leaves for longer and also experienced a smaller decline in end of season chlorophyll content, resulting in a greener autumn canopy relative to that in ambient CO2.

Professor Gail Taylor, of the University’s School of Biological Sciences, explains:

‘The research data provide compelling evidence in terms of both the leaf and canopy that autumnal senescence in such forest ecosystems will be delayed as the atmospheric concentration of CO2 continues to rise, independent of increased temperatures.

‘Photosynthesis and canopy greenness are maintained for longer in elevated CO2. This is because a CO2 rich atmosphere allows the tree to generate carbon rich compounds that are known to prolong the life of leaves. These compounds may have a positive effect for carbon balance and stress tolerance but may also have a negative effect on the control of dormancy.

‘When trees keep their leaves for longer, they continue to photosynthesise but trees also need to set bud and if they don’t do that, it makes them susceptible to frost and other weather events. A key question now is whether we should be selecting trees which are better adapted to coping with increasing levels of CO2, perhaps considering different varieties and species to plant, rather than using locally sourced seed, as is current practice,’ she continues.

The study also provides the first insight into changes in the genetic make-up of Populus that can account for this shift to delayed senescence. Using cDNA microarrays, the researchers looked at approximately 20,000 genes and have identified a suite of genes that are switched on during delayed senescence in elevated CO2.

Sarah Watts | alfa
Further information:
http://www.soton.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University

nachricht From the Arctic to the tropics: researchers present a unique database on Earth’s vegetation
20.11.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

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: 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 >>>