Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Down And Dirty: Airborne Ozone Can Alter Forest Soil

Date:
October 16, 2003
Source:
North Central Research Station / USDA Forest Service
Summary:
The industrial pollutant ozone, long known to be harmful to many kinds of plants, can also affect the very earth in which they grow.

HOUGHTON, Mich. -- The industrial pollutant ozone, long known to be harmful to many kinds of plants, can also affect the very earth in which they grow.

Researchers at Michigan Technological University and the North Central Research Station of the USDA Forest Service have discovered that ozone can reduce soil carbon formation--a measure of the amount of organic matter being added to the soil. Their findings are published in the Oct. 16 issue of the journal Nature.

The scientists exposed forest stands to increased levels of two atmospheric pollutants, ozone and carbon dioxide. Soil carbon formation dropped off dramatically in the plots fumigated with a mix of ozone and carbon dioxide compared to carbon dioxide alone.

"This research shows that changes in atmospheric chemistry can cascade through the forest and affect soils," says Dr. Kurt Pregitzer, a coauthor of the Nature paper and a professor in Michigan Tech's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. "Reductions we have observed in plant growth under elevated ozone appear to result in similar reductions in soil carbon formation."

The findings could have implications for the health of forests in areas with high levels of ozone, says Dr. Wendy Loya, the lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral research scientist at Michigan Tech. "Under normal conditions, forest litter, which is made up of fallen leaves, twigs and dead roots, decomposes and releases carbon that is then stored in the soil," she says. "Under conditions of elevated ozone, the amount of soil carbon formed is reduced."

Because increased carbon dioxide tends to cause plants to grow more quickly and take in more carbon from the atmosphere, some scientists and policymakers have speculated that forests could become "carbon sinks," absorbing carbon dioxide and mitigating its greenhouse effects.

However, the soil in the plots exposed to an ozone/carbon dioxide mixture gained only half the carbon as plots fumigated with carbon dioxide alone. Thus, plants and soils may be less able to clean the air of excess carbon dioxide when ozone levels are high.

Ozone pollution occurs at levels known to be toxic to both plants and people in many parts of the United States and throughout the world. It is formed when chemicals produced by burning fossil fuels and from industrial processes react in the presence of sunlight and warm temperatures.

In addition to Loya and Pregitzer, other coauthors of the Nature article, "Reduction of Soil Carbon Formation by Tropospheric Ozone Under Elevated Carbon Dioxide," are Dr. John King, an assistant professor of ecosystems at Michigan Tech; and research ecologist Dr. Christian Giardina and ecologist Noah Karberg of the USDA Forest Service.

This research was supported by the US Department of Energy's Office of Science (BER: Program for Ecosystem Research and National Institute for Global Environmental Change), the USDA Forest Service (Northern Global Change and North Central Research Station), the National Science Foundation (DEB, DBI/MRI), and the USDA Natural Research Initiatives Competitive Grants Program.

The four-year study was conducted at Aspen FACE (Free-Air CO2 Enrichment), the world's largest, open-air climate-change research facility. Located in Rhinelander, Wis., Aspen FACE opens a window on the future of our northern forests and is the only FACE site where scientists can study the impact of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and ozone on forest ecosystems. For more information on Aspen FACE, contact its director, Dr. David Karnosky, karnosky@mtu.edu.

Aspen FACE is funded jointly by the Department of Energy's Office of Science Program for Ecosystem Research and National Institute for Global Environmental Research; the National Science Foundation; Global Change Program, USDA Forest Service; North Central Research Station, USDA Forest Service; Michigan Technological University; the USDA National Research Initiative Program; Brookhaven National Laboratory; and Natural Resources Canada.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Central Research Station / USDA Forest Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

North Central Research Station / USDA Forest Service. "Down And Dirty: Airborne Ozone Can Alter Forest Soil." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031016063501.htm>.
North Central Research Station / USDA Forest Service. (2003, October 16). Down And Dirty: Airborne Ozone Can Alter Forest Soil. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031016063501.htm
North Central Research Station / USDA Forest Service. "Down And Dirty: Airborne Ozone Can Alter Forest Soil." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031016063501.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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