Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can cutting trees help fight global warming? More logging, deforestation may better serve climate in some areas, study finds

Date:
December 5, 2013
Source:
Dartmouth College
Summary:
Replacing forests with snow-covered meadows may provide greater climatic and economic benefits than if trees are left standing in some regions, according to a study that for the first time puts a dollar value on snow's ability to reflect the sun's energy.

New research suggests that in some regions, replacing forests with snow-covered meadows may provide greater climatic and economic benefits than if trees are left standing.
Credit: alma_sacra / Fotolia

Replacing forests with snow-covered meadows may provide greater climatic and economic benefits than if trees are left standing in some regions, according to a Dartmouth College study that for the first time puts a dollar value on snow's ability to reflect the sun's energy.

Related Articles


The findings suggest more frequent logging or deforestation may better serve our planet and pocketbooks in high latitude areas where snowfall is common and timber productivity is low. Such a scenario could involve including snow cover/albedo in existing greenhouse gas exchanges like the Kyoto protocol or a cap-and-trade program or ecosystem services market in which landowners are paid to maintain snow cover and produce timber rather than conserve forests and store carbon. Previous studies have put a price on many ecosystem services -- or services that nature provides to humans that have both economic and biological value, such as drinking water and crop pollination -- but the Dartmouth study is the first to do so for albedo, or the surface reflection of incoming solar energy.

The findings contrast with the dominant paradigm that including forest climate mitigation services such as carbon storage on compliance markets will lead to the conservation of forests. Instead, the findings show that in some areas, it is better to have snow act as a natural mirror if you want to use forests for climate-related purposes.

The findings will be presented Dec. 12th at the American Geophysical Union's annual fall meeting in San Francisco in the Global Environmental Change High Profile Topics session.

Climate change mitigation projects, such as the Kyoto Protocol, encourage reforestation because growing forests take up carbon dioxide, but previous studies have suggested the cooling aspect of surface albedo could counterbalance the benefits of forest growth.

The Dartmouth researchers placed an economic value on timber through wood prices as well as on albedo and carbon by using a sophisticated model of the climate and economy called an integrated-assessment model. They then examined the potential impact of these values on hardwood and softwood forest rotations in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. A rotation period begins when new trees are planted and ends when most of the trees are harvested.

Their results suggest that including the value of albedo can shorten optimal forest rotation periods significantly compared to scenarios where only timber and carbon are considered. For instance, in spruce and fir stands, very short rotation periods of 25 years become economically optimal when albedo is considered. The researchers attributed this to the low timber productivity and substantial snowfall in the White Mountain National Forest. Thus, they expect that in high latitude sites, where snowfall is common and forest productivity is low, valuing albedo may mean the optimal forest size is near zero.

The researchers note that increased timber harvesting may harm biodiversity and other ecosystem services, so they recommend forest managers take those factors into account as they try to maximize the flow of timber, carbon storage and albedo in mid- and high-latitude temperate and boreal forests.

The study was funded through the New Hampshire Experimental Program to Stimulate Cooperative Research (EPSCoR) from the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Dartmouth College. "Can cutting trees help fight global warming? More logging, deforestation may better serve climate in some areas, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131205141633.htm>.
Dartmouth College. (2013, December 5). Can cutting trees help fight global warming? More logging, deforestation may better serve climate in some areas, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131205141633.htm
Dartmouth College. "Can cutting trees help fight global warming? More logging, deforestation may better serve climate in some areas, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131205141633.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
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