Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Amazon Trees Much Older Than Assumed, Raising Questions On Global Climate Impact Of Region

Date:
December 13, 2005
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
Trees in the Amazon tropical forests are old. Really old, in fact, which comes as a surprise to a team of American and Brazilian researchers studying tree growth in the world's largest tropical region.

Trees in the Amazon tropical forests are old. Really old, in fact, which comes as a surprise to a team of American and Brazilian researchers studying tree growth in the world’s largest tropical region.

Related Articles


Using radiocarbon dating methods, the team, which includes UC Irvine’s Susan Trumbore, found that up to half of all trees greater than 10 centimeters in diameter are more than 300 years old. Some of the trees, Trumbore said, are as much as 750 to 1,000 years old. Study results appear in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Little was known about the age of tropical trees, because they do not have easily identified annual growth rings,” added Trumbore, a professor of Earth system science. “No one had thought these tropical trees could be so old, or that they grow so slowly.”

And for Trumbore, who studies how forests and the atmosphere exchange carbon, these discoveries can have implications for the role the Amazon plays in determining global carbon dioxide levels. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas implicated in accelerated global warming and the focus of international efforts to curb its atmospheric levels.

Because their trees are old and slow-growing, the Amazon forests, which contain about a third of all carbon found in land vegetation, have less capacity to absorb atmospheric carbon than previous studies have predicted. Although some of the largest trees also grow the fastest and can take up carbon quickly, the vast majority of the Amazon trees grow slowly.

“In the Central Amazon, where we found the slowest growing trees, the rates of carbon uptake are roughly half what is predicted by current global carbon cycle models,” Trumbore said. “As a result, those models – which are used by scientists to understand how carbon flows through the Earth system – may be overestimating the forests’ capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

As part of the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA), the researchers revealed an interesting portrait of tree life beneath the limbs of the large trees that dominate tropical forests. They found that most Amazon basin trees are so old because they grow very slowly on nutrient-poor soils in dark shade under the canopy of large trees. The growth rates they measured for Central Amazon trees are among the slowest in any forest on Earth. These results, Trumbore points out, are contrary to the widely held view that tropical forests are highly dynamic.

“In addition, the impact of logging activity in the Amazon region may be longer-lasting than we think,” Trumbore added, “because it may take centuries for these forests to grow back to their full size.”

Some of the older trees found in the study included economically valuable species. For example, three Brazil nut trees measured in the study ranged in age from 680 to 1,000 years.

Supported by NASA, the LBA is a Brazilian-led international scientific program with the goal of studying how the Amazon forest affects global climate and carbon dioxide. The work was a cooperative effort among researchers at the University of Sao Paulo, University of Acre and the Institute for Amazonian Research in Brazil, and UCI and Tulane University in the U.S. Radiocarbon measurements were made at the W.M. Keck Carbon Cycle Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility at UCI.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "Amazon Trees Much Older Than Assumed, Raising Questions On Global Climate Impact Of Region." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051213174230.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2005, December 13). Amazon Trees Much Older Than Assumed, Raising Questions On Global Climate Impact Of Region. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051213174230.htm
University of California - Irvine. "Amazon Trees Much Older Than Assumed, Raising Questions On Global Climate Impact Of Region." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051213174230.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Models in Masks Highlight Indonesian Environmental Devastation

Models in Masks Highlight Indonesian Environmental Devastation

AFP (Mar. 31, 2015) Wearing gas masks and designer dresses, models condemn the fashion industry&apos;s role in causing environmental devastation. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dutch Architects Show Off 3D House-Building Prowess

Dutch Architects Show Off 3D House-Building Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) Dutch architects are constructing a 3D-printed canal-side home, which they hope will spark an environmental revolution in the house-building industry. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Plane Stops in China

Solar Plane Stops in China

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) Solar Impulse 2 stops over in China&apos;s Chonqing, completing the fifth leg in its bid to become the first solar powered plane to travel around the globe. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Impulse Lands in China After 20-Hour Flight from Myanmar

Solar Impulse Lands in China After 20-Hour Flight from Myanmar

AFP (Mar. 31, 2015) Solar Impulse 2 lands in China, the world&apos;s biggest carbon emitter, completing the fifth leg of its landmark global circumnavigation powered solely by the sun. Duration: 00:55 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:

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