Update: Trees using water more efficiently as atmospheric carbon dioxide rises

Share via AddThis
Posted on July 11, 2013
A sonic aenomometer and air inlet tube on an eddy-covariance tower at University of Michigan Biological Station, Michigan, USA. The instruments allow for the continuous monitoring of gas exchange between the forest and the atmosphere. Credit: Chris Vogel

A sonic aenomometer and air inlet tube on an eddy-covariance tower at University of Michigan Biological Station, Michigan, USA. The instruments allow for the continuous monitoring of gas exchange between the forest and the atmosphere. Credit: Chris Vogel

A study by scientists with the U.S. Forest Service, Harvard University and partners suggests that trees are responding to higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by becoming more efficient at using water.

The study, “Increase in forest water-use efficiency as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations rise,” was published on-line today in the journal Nature. Dave Hollinger, a plant physiologist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, is a co-author with lead author Trevor Keenan of Harvard University and colleagues from The Ohio State University, Indiana University, and the Institute of Meteorology and Climate in Germany.

“Working with others, the Forest Service is developing knowledge that is essential to maintaining healthy, sustainable forests in a changing climate,” said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Northern Research Station. “We are striving to be at the forefront of delivering sound climate science to the public.”

Terrestrial plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, a process that is accompanied by the loss of water vapor from leaves. The ratio of water loss to carbon gain, or water-use efficiency, is a key characteristic of ecosystem function that is central to the global cycles of water, energy and carbon.

Scientists analyzed direct, long-term measurements of whole-ecosystem carbon and water exchange and found a substantial increase in water-use efficiency in temperate and boreal forests of the Northern Hemisphere over the past two decades.

“Our analysis suggests that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide is having a direct and unexpectedly strong influence on ecosystem processes and biosphere-atmosphere interactions in temperate and boreal forests,” Hollinger said.

Read more at: Phys.org



41,668 science & technology articles

Categories

Our Articles (see all)

General News

Follow us

Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   StumbleUpon   Plurk
Google+   Tumblr   Delicious   RSS   Newsletter via Email

Featured Video (see all)


Hubble Video Shows Shock Collision inside Black Hole Jet
When you’re blasting though space at more than 98 percent of the speed of light, you may need…

Featured Image (see all)


Orion Windows Undergoing Inspection at Kennedy Space Center
Inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building high bay at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians…