Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tropical ecosystems boost carbon dioxide as temperatures rises

Date:
July 24, 2013
Source:
NASA
Summary:
NASA scientists and an international team of researchers have found tropical ecosystems can generate significant carbon dioxide when temperatures rise, unlike ecosystems in other parts of the world.

Above image was made with the satellite instrument MODIS (or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data. It is a key instrument aboard the Terra (EOS AM) and Aqua (EOS PM) satellites.
Credit: Weile Wang

NASA scientists and an international team of researchers have found tropical ecosystems can generate significant carbon dioxide when temperatures rise, unlike ecosystems in other parts of the world.

The researchers discovered a temperature increase of just 1 degree Celsius in near-surface air temperatures in the tropics leads to an average annual growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide equivalent to one-third of the annual global emissions from combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation combined. In tropical ecosystems carbon uptake is reduced at higher temperatures. This finding provides scientists with a key diagnostic tool to better understand the global carbon cycle.

"What we learned is that in spite of droughts, floods, volcano eruptions, El Niño and other events, the Earth system has been remarkably consistent in regulating the year-to-year variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels," said Weile Wang, a research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of a paper published Wednesday, July 24, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study provides support for the "carbon-climate feedback" hypothesis proposed by many scientists. This hypothesis asserts a warming climate will lead to accelerated carbon dioxide growth in the atmosphere from vegetation and soils. Multiple Earth system processes, such as droughts and floods, also contribute to changes in the atmospheric carbon dioxide growth rate. The new finding demonstrates observed temperature changes are a more important factor than rainfall changes in the tropics.

The team used a state-of-the-art, high-performance computing and data access facility called NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) at Ames to investigate the mechanisms underlying the relationship between carbon dioxide levels and increased temperatures. The NEX facility allowed scientists to analyze widely available data of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and global air temperatures between 1959 and 2011, while studying outputs from several global dynamic vegetation models.

"Climate warming is what we know with certainty will happen under climate change in the tropics,," said Josep G. Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project in Canberra, Australia, and co-author on the paper. This implies that the release of carbon dioxide from the tropical ecosystems will very likely be accelerated with future warming.

Events that can temporarily influence climate, such as volcanic eruptions, may disturb the strength of the relationship between annual temperature and carbon dioxide growth for a few years, but the coupling always recovers after such events.

"The study really highlights the importance of long-term Earth observations for improving our understanding of the Earth system," said Rama Nemani, principal scientist at Ames for the NEX project." Conclusions drawn from analysis of shorter records could be misleading."

The study was supported by the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Weile Wang, Philippe Ciais, Ramakrishna R. Nemani, Josep G. Canadell, Shilong Piao, Stephen Sitch, Michael A. White, Hirofumi Hashimoto, Cristina Milesi, and Ranga B. Myneni. Variations in atmospheric CO2 growth rates coupled with tropical temperature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1219683110

Cite This Page:

NASA. "Tropical ecosystems boost carbon dioxide as temperatures rises." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130724154554.htm>.
NASA. (2013, July 24). Tropical ecosystems boost carbon dioxide as temperatures rises. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130724154554.htm
NASA. "Tropical ecosystems boost carbon dioxide as temperatures rises." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130724154554.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) 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:

More Coverage


Tropical Ecosystems Regulate Variations in Earth's Carbon Dioxide Levels

July 23, 2013 — Rising temperatures, influenced by natural events such as El Niño, have a corresponding increase in the release of carbon dioxide from tropical forest ecosystems, according to a new ... read more
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