Warmer climate could stifle carbon uptake by trees

Saturday 9th January, 2010

Warmer climate could stifle carbon uptake by trees

IANS Friday 8th January, 2010

Sub-alpine forests are likely to soak up less carbon dioxide as the earth warms, leaving greater greenhouse gas concentrations in the air, according to a recent study.

‘Our findings contradict studies of other ecosystems that conclude that longer growing seasons actually increase plant carbon uptake,’ said Jia Hu, who conducted the study as ecology graduate student at the Colarado University-Boulder.

Working with Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Fellow Russell Monson, Hu found that while a smaller spring snowpack tended to advance spring, it also reduced water available to forests later in the summer and autumn.

The water-stressed trees were then less effective in converting carbon dioxide into biomass. Summer rains were unable to make up for the difference, Hu said.

‘Snow is much more effective than rain in delivering water to these forests,’ said Monson. ‘If a warmer climate brings more rain, this won’t offset the carbon uptake potential being lost due to declining snowpacks.’

Drier trees also are more susceptible to beetle infestations and wildfires, Monson said, according to a university release.

Study co-authors included David Moore of King’s College London and Sean Burns of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and CU-Boulder.

The study will be published in the February edition of Global Change Biology.



~ by Cory Morningstar on January 9, 2010.

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