Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Aircraft, Ground Instruments To Track Carbon Dioxide Uptake Along Colorado's Drought-Plagued Front Range

Date:
April 27, 2004
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
As spring turns into summer, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and other institutions will fly a C-130 research aircraft over Colorado's Front Range this May and again in July to measure how much carbon dioxide mountain forests remove from the air.

Arlington, Va. -- As spring turns into summer, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and other institutions will fly a C-130 research aircraft over Colorado's Front Range this May and again in July to measure how much carbon dioxide mountain forests remove from the air. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Related Articles


The researchers are developing new methods for assessing carbon uptake over complex terrain on regional scales. Accurate assessments could help show to what extent carbon dioxide storage in Western mountain forests--a potentially important "sink" for the greenhouse gas--may be slowing down as the ongoing drought affects tree growth.

"We now believe that complex interactions of organisms, human activity and chemical cycles control carbon fluxes in mountains," says Rachael Craig, program director in NSF's division of earth sciences, which funded the experiment. "The ACME project has the potential to clarify this key component of the carbon cycle."

International pressure is mounting to limit carbon emissions because of their role in global climate change. Better understanding of natural processes involved in forest-air carbon exchange may lead to more accurate monitoring methods and new ways to enhance carbon uptake. High carbon-emitting nations and industries are interested in devising strategies for meeting quotas and trading carbon credits.

ACME (short for the Airborne Carbon in the Mountains Experiment) gives scientists an opportunity for the first time to combine airborne data with ground-based measurements to paint a more accurate picture of carbon exchanges in rolling hills and mountain ranges. Results from the field program will also be used in testing computer models of forest ecosystem function. The models will help scientists understand the response of forests to drought, fire, insects, and climate change.

"Wildfires play a big role in controlling vegetation and carbon exchange in the Rockies," says NCAR scientist Dave Schimel, "but most burn areas are too small to assess from an aircraft. For the first time we have a chance to get airborne measurements of carbon directly over a large, disturbed area."

Forest losses during the 2002 wildfire season in Colo. reversed years of carbon uptake. The amount of carbon dioxide released from trees during the fires equaled an entire year's emissions from statewide transportation activities.

As the research plane samples air aloft, a dense network of instruments will gather data over a half-square mile on Niwot Ridge near Nederland, Colo. Perched atop three steel towers provided by NCAR, each between 100 and 200 feet tall, carbon dioxide sensors and sonic anemometers will measure changes in carbon levels and winds high above the tree tops.

"Today, we usually look for carbon in all the wrong places," says Schimel, "focusing on where it's easy to measure rather than where fluxes are largest." Most current studies are in flat areas, but most western forests are in the mountains, he explains. Schimel and colleagues have estimated that 25-50 percent of U.S. carbon uptake occurs in mountainous terrain.

In the northern mid-latitudes, significant carbon uptake occurs in forests, which are typically left to grow undisturbed in mountainous regions. Ground-based sensors work well in flat land: there are 200 such sites around the world. But in mountain ranges special conditions, such as turbulent airflow, snow pack, vegetation patterns, and contrasts in sunshine and shade, complicate data gathering.

Along with NCAR, the Universities of Colorado, Florida, and Utah, Colorado State University, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography are also participating in the project.

Human activities put 8 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year--6 billion from fossil fuel burning and another two billion from forest destruction. But monitors show only half that much building up in the planet's atmosphere. The other 4 billion tons are removed each year by growing vegetation and ocean waters.

The United States alone is responsible for some 20 percent, more than 1.5 billion tons, of the global total carbon output. But U.S. forests may remove as much as 1 billion tons per year naturally as trees grow back on abandoned farmland, spread over historical grasslands, or grow thick with underbrush protected from wildfires. Understanding these removal processes better, along with more accurate monitoring, could lead to new methods for enhancing carbon uptake, says Craig.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Aircraft, Ground Instruments To Track Carbon Dioxide Uptake Along Colorado's Drought-Plagued Front Range." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040427053354.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2004, April 27). Aircraft, Ground Instruments To Track Carbon Dioxide Uptake Along Colorado's Drought-Plagued Front Range. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040427053354.htm
National Science Foundation. "Aircraft, Ground Instruments To Track Carbon Dioxide Uptake Along Colorado's Drought-Plagued Front Range." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040427053354.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) A scuba diving Santa Claus explored the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Dive shop owner Spencer Slate makes the dive each year to help raise money for charity. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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