Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study questions nature's ability to 'self-correct' climate change

Date:
August 6, 2013
Source:
Northern Arizona University
Summary:
Forests have a limited capacity to soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study.

Forests have a limited capacity to soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study from Northern Arizona University.

The study, available online in the journal New Phytologist, aimed to explore how rising atmospheric carbon dioxide could alter the carbon and nitrogen content of ecosystems.

By performing tests on subtropical woodland plots over an 11-year period, the researchers found that ecosystem carbon uptake was not significantly increased by the high CO2 treatment—in contrast to expectations. While plants did contain more carbon when CO2 levels were increased, soil actually lost carbon due to microbial decomposition; both factors essentially balanced one another out.

"Nature cannot 'self-correct' entirely against climate change, and the scientific community has been both overestimating the impact of plants and underestimating the impact of soil microorganisms in how they absorb CO2 and ultimately impact global warming," said Bruce Hungate, director of the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at NAU and lead author on the study.

"Models of land ecosystems need to be revised to represent microbial responses explicitly,” Hungate said. “They're the carbon balance 'trump card,' reversing the effect of plants on total carbon storage."

According to Hungate, the tests confirmed that although soil microorganisms are microscopic, they are just as important as plants in determining carbon storage by ecosystems.

In addition, the study results indicate that widely accepted carbon cycle models overestimate the role of ecosystems in absorbing carbon from the atmosphere because the models do not represent the responses of soil microorganisms correctly.

Funding for the study was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, NASA and the Smithsonian Institution.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Bruce A. Hungate, Paul Dijkstra, Zhuoting Wu, Benjamin D. Duval, Frank P. Day, Dale W. Johnson, J. Patrick Megonigal, Alisha L. P. Brown, Jay L. Garland. Cumulative response of ecosystem carbon and nitrogen stocks to chronic CO2 exposure in a subtropical oak woodland. New Phytologist, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/nph.12333

Cite This Page:

Northern Arizona University. "Study questions nature's ability to 'self-correct' climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806203148.htm>.
Northern Arizona University. (2013, August 6). Study questions nature's ability to 'self-correct' climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806203148.htm
Northern Arizona University. "Study questions nature's ability to 'self-correct' climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806203148.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) An Arkansas man has found a nearly 6.2-carat diamond, which he dubbed "The Limitless Diamond," at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) At least six Nepalese guides are dead after an avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest along a route used to climb the world's highest peak. (April 18) 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:
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