Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Impact From Rainforest Greenhouse Gasses May Not Be As Great As Thought, Study Shows

Date:
January 25, 2000
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
The Amazon rainforest is striking a balance - albeit a precarious one - in terms of the greenhouse gasses that are released as its rainforests are consumed, a study shows. The study indicates that the carbon released into the atmosphere by deforestation offsets that absorbed by new forests growing.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (1/20/00) -- The Amazon rainforest is striking a balance - albeit a precarious one - in terms of the greenhouse gasses that are released as its rainforests are consumed, a study shows.

The study, published in today's edition of the British science journal Nature, indicates that the carbon released into the atmosphere by deforestation offsets that absorbed by new forests growing.

According to David Skole, director of MSU's Basic Science and Remote Sensing Initiative and one of the paper's authors, data that suggests that the tropical rainforest both giveth and taketh away creates new questions about the world's carbon cycle.

"It appears that tropical forests that have been thought of as large sources of greenhouse gasses may be neutral," Skole said. "This may change the way we look at the significance of fossil fuel emissions."

Skole co-authored the Nature paper "Annual Fluxes of Carbon from Deforestation and Regrowth in the Brazilian Amazon" with Walter Chomentowski from MSU; Richard Houghton, J.L. Jackler and K.T. Lawrence of Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts; and Carlos Nobre in Brazil. The group analyzed satellite data that charts deforestation each year, calculated carbon emissions caused by land-use changes, such as farmland, and estimated the biomass of forests and farmlands in Brazil from 1988 to 1998.

The result: The first year-to-date analysis not only of the carbon that is released into the atmosphere by deforestation and natural decay, but also of how much of that carbon is reused as rainforests grow back.

Carbon - the building block of life - weaves through all of life on earth in a delicate balance. It is released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels and wood, and from the decay of plant and animal material. These are known as "sources."

Likewise, atmospheric carbon re-enters the life cycle as trees draw upon carbon dioxide to grow and as the oceans absorb it. The sites of this reabsorption are known as "sinks."

Ultimately, scientists theorize, source and sink must be equal. Imbalances such as too much carbon gas released into the air result in global warming. It also appears that atmosphere rich in carbon gas can act as a fertilizer, spurring quicker growth of plant life.

Signs of quicker forest growth are a classic problem of seeing the forest for the trees. The change in growth rates is too small to measure on a single tree. "You wouldn't find anything if you went into a wood lot with calipers," Skole said.

Yet satellite data plus computer models can indicate changes that are small on a single tree, but significant in an entire forest - and how much carbon gas is absorbed.

One of the most difficult problems is that the balance of source and sink in the Amazon can fluctuate from year to year, and satellite monitoring is needed to capture these variations over large areas such as the Amazon with very high accuracy, Skole said.

The study was funded by the Landsat Program in NASA's Office of Earth Science, the Terrestrial Ecology Program, and the Land Cover and Land Use Change Program.

The Basic Science and Remote Sensing Initiative is a global change research program in the Department of Geography at Michigan State University. The goal is to develop an interdisciplinary approach to understanding global change, at both regional and global scales, through the integration of both physical and social sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Impact From Rainforest Greenhouse Gasses May Not Be As Great As Thought, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000125053133.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2000, January 25). Impact From Rainforest Greenhouse Gasses May Not Be As Great As Thought, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000125053133.htm
Michigan State University. "Impact From Rainforest Greenhouse Gasses May Not Be As Great As Thought, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000125053133.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

AFP (Aug. 25, 2014) A factory in the industrial state of Sao Paulo produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Prime Minister at Japan Landslide Site

Raw: Prime Minister at Japan Landslide Site

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Hiroshima on Monday as rescuers expanded their search for dozens still missing from landslides around the western Japanese city that killed at least 50 people. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins