Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient Oak Trees Help Reduce Global Warming

Date:
June 28, 2008
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
The battle to reduce carbon emissions is at the heart of many eco-friendly efforts, and researchers have discovered that nature has been lending a hand. They have discovered that trees submerged in freshwater aquatic systems store carbon for thousands of years, a significantly longer period of time than trees that fall in a forest, thus keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.

Trees -- such as this oak -- that are submerged in freshwater aquatic systems store carbon for thousands of years, researchers have found.
Credit: iStockphoto/Dave Long

The battle to reduce carbon emissions is at the heart of many eco-friendly efforts, and researchers from the University of Missouri have discovered that nature has been lending a hand. Researchers at the Missouri Tree Ring Laboratory in the Department of Forestry discovered that trees submerged in freshwater aquatic systems store carbon for thousands of years, a significantly longer period of time than trees that fall in a forest, thus keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.

“If a tree is submerged in water, its carbon will be stored for an average of 2,000 years,” said Richard Guyette, director of the MU Tree Ring Lab and research associate professor of forestry in the School of Natural Resources in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “If a tree falls in a forest, that number is reduced to an average of 20 years, and in firewood, the carbon is only stored for one year.”

The team studied trees in northern Missouri, a geographically unique area with a high level of riparian forests (forests that have natural water flowing through them). They discovered submerged oak trees that were as old as 14,000 years, potentially some of the oldest discovered in the world. This carbon storage process is not just ancient; it continues even today as additional trees become submerged, according to Guyette.

While a tree is alive, it has a high ability to store carbon, thus keeping it out of the atmosphere. However, as it begins to decay, a tree’s carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Discovering that certain conditions slow this process reveals the importance of proper tree disposal as well as the benefits of riparian forests.

“Carbon plays a huge role in climate change and information about where it goes will be very important someday soon,” said Michael C. Stambaugh, research associate in the MU Department of Forestry. “The goal is to increase our knowledge of the carbon cycle, particularly its exchange between the biosphere (plants) and atmosphere. We need to know where it goes and for how long in order to know how to offset its effects.”

This could be a valuable find for landowners. Although it is not yet common in North America, emissions trading has been gaining popularity in parts of Europe. Also known as cap and trade, emissions trading works to reduce pollution by setting a limit on the amount of pollutants an organization can emit into the air. If they exceed that number, the group is required to obtain carbon credits. One carbon credit equals one metric ton of carbon-dioxide or other equivalent greenhouse gases.

Carbon credits can be purchased in a variety of ways. Such as: planting new trees or harvesting old wood that has stored carbon; collecting methane from landfills; or purchasing credits from other companies who have a carbon surplus by staying below their emission requirements.

This week, the California Air Resources Board announced the consideration of a large plan to fight global warming. The recommendations include reducing emissions, in part by requiring major polluters to trade carbon credits.

“Farmers can sell the carbon they have stored in their trees through a carbon credit stock market,” Guyette said. “Companies that emit excess of carbon would be able to buy carbon credits to offset their pollution.”


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Guyette et al. The Temporal Distribution and Carbon Storage of Large Oak Wood in Streams and Floodplain Deposits. Ecosystems, 2008; 11 (4): 643 DOI: 10.1007/s10021-008-9149-9

Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Ancient Oak Trees Help Reduce Global Warming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080627163041.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2008, June 28). Ancient Oak Trees Help Reduce Global Warming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080627163041.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Ancient Oak Trees Help Reduce Global Warming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080627163041.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) Federal researchers have released new images of the City of Chester, a steamship that sank in San Francisco Bay in 1888. Researchers recently found the shipwreck while mapping shipping routes. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 23, 2014) A group of space explorers say the chance of a city-obliterating asteroid striking Earth is higher than scientists previously believed. Deborah Gembara reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 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