24/7 Space News
CARBON WORLDS
Climate change threatens global forest carbon sequestration, study finds
stock image only
Climate change threatens global forest carbon sequestration, study finds
by Lauren Barnett | University of Florida
Gainesville FL (SPX) Jan 16, 2024

Climate change is reshaping forests differently across the United States, according to a new analysis of U.S. Forest Service data. With rising temperatures, escalating droughts, wildfires, and disease outbreaks taking a toll on trees, researchers warn that forests across the American West are bearing the brunt of the consequences.

The study, led by UF Biology researchers J. Aaron Hogan and Jeremy W. Lichstein was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study reveals a pronounced regional imbalance in forest productivity, a key barometer of forest health that gauges tree growth and biomass accumulation. Over the past two decades, the Western U.S., grappling with more severe climate change impacts, has exhibited a notable slowdown in productivity, while the Eastern U.S., experiencing milder climate effects, has seen slightly accelerated growth.

Forests play a critical role in regulating the Earth's climate, acting as carbon sinks that sequester approximately 25% of human carbon emissions annually. However, their ability to store carbon hinges on the delicate balance between the positive and negative effects of climate change. The study, using national-scale forest inventory data, models trends from 1999 to 2020, analyzing 113,806 measurements in non-plantation forests.

"We are witnessing changes in forest functioning as forest ecosystems respond to global change drivers, such as carbon-dioxide-fertilization and climate change," said Hogan. "It is the future balance of these drivers which will determine the functioning of forests in the coming years to decades."

Some drivers, such as droughts and forest pathogens, have negative effects on productivity, but other drivers, such as carbon-dioxide fertilization, are predicted to have positive effects. This phenomenon suggests that increased carbon-dioxide levels enhance plant growth by increasing photosynthesis, which inspired the researchers to take a deeper look at its impact.

"The U.S. Forest Service has been monitoring the growth and survival of over a million trees across the U.S. for multiple decades," said Lichstein. "We were interested to see if their data provided evidence for increased rates of tree growth, as predicted by the carbon-dioxide fertilization hypothesis."

While tree growth in the Eastern U.S. aligns with expectations, the Western region shows extreme climate effects overshadowing any positive growth trends, challenging the prevailing assumption that forests' carbon-storing ability will continue to increase.

"Our study suggests that future projections of climate and sea-level rise may be too optimistic because, in reality, ecosystems are likely to store less carbon in the future," said Lichstein. "Less ecosystem carbon storage means more carbon in the atmosphere and therefore more warming and accelerating climate change."

The findings also illuminate the fact that climate change is not a uniform force but rather a dynamic agent with region-specific influences. The study illustrates how the degree of climate change can push forests past a tipping point. Some forests are already approaching or surpassing climate thresholds which shift them to become sources of carbon, rather than sinks that remove carbon from the atmosphere.

"Ecosystem carbon sequestration is not guaranteed to be permanent, and it can be reversed by climate change," said Lichstein. "This reversal is already happening in the Western U.S., and there are signs that it may also be happening in other drought-impacted regions of the world, such as the Amazon."

It might be tempting to chalk the losses up to extreme events. But, according to the researchers, the decline in productivity in the Western U.S. cannot be attributed to increased rates of tree mortality.

"We hear a lot about wildfires in the Western U.S., which kill a lot of trees and release carbon to the atmosphere," said Lichstein. "But our study shows that additional ecosystem carbon loss in Western forests is occurring due to declining tree growth rates."

With trees growing slower due to adverse climate change effects, including decreased precipitation, the study implies that, even without the intensifying wildfires, the carbon sink in Western forests will continue to weaken without urgent action to reduce human greenhouse gas emissions.

"We must have healthy forests in connection with emissions reduction to restore the global carbon balance and limit climate change," said Hogan.

The transformations observed in U.S. forests raise concerns about their future resilience and sustainability. The researchers hope their findings highlight the urgent need for governments and industry to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net-zero emissions as soon as possible.

"Our results highlight the need for reduced global greenhouse gas emissions," said Lichstein. "Without the emissions reductions that scientists have been urging for decades, forest carbon sinks will likely weaken, which will accelerate the pace of climate change."

This study was developed with Grant Domke from the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station, Kai Zhu from the University of Michigan, and Dan Johnson from UF's School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences.

Research Report:Climate change determines the sign of productivity trends in US forests

Related Links
University of Florida
Carbon Worlds - where graphite, diamond, amorphous, fullerenes meet

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters
Tweet

RELATED CONTENT
The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
CARBON WORLDS
Capturing greenhouse gases with the help of light
Zurich, Switzerland (SPX) Jan 15, 2024
If we want to slow down global warming, we need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among other things, we need to do without fossil fuels and use more energy-efficient technologies. However, reducing emissions alone won't do enough to meet the climate targets. We must also capture large quantities of the greenhouse gas CO2 from the atmosphere and either store it permanently underground or use it as a carbon-neutral feed material in industry. Unfortunately, the carbon capture technologies av ... read more

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
CARBON WORLDS
Starliner parachute system upgrade tested before crewed flight

Ax-3: A Step Forward in Long-Duration Space Missions with Advanced Tech Experiments

Revolutionizing Space Habitats: Aurelia Institute's TESSERAE for Biotech Studies

At CES, gadgets to make everyday life easier

CARBON WORLDS
SpaceX completes second launch Sunday, sends more satellites into orbit

Rocket maker working on medium-lift model

China's Gravity 1 sets record for solid rocket fuels in maiden launch

Self-eating rocket could help UK take a big bite of space industry

CARBON WORLDS
Water may have flowed through Martian Valleys countless times

IDEFIX Rover Set to Embark on Pioneering Journey to Martian Moon Phobos

Potential solvents identified for building on Moon and Mars

NASA's CHAPEA mission reaches 200-Day milestone in Mars Analog Study

CARBON WORLDS
Tianzhou 7 mission set to enhance operations at China's Tiangong Space Station

Tianzhou 6 cargo spacecraft to return to Earth

Tianxing 1B satellite launched by Kuaizhou 1A to conduct space environment survey

China begins 2024 with key Kuaizhou 1A satellite launch

CARBON WORLDS
MEASAT Partners with SpaceX as Official Reseller for Starlink Services in Key Markets

Iridium announces Project Stardust for Global, Standards-Based IoT Connectivity

Euroconsult forecasts $75 Billion in growth for Middle East's Space Sector by 2032

Wiseband and Rivada Space Networks join forces for Middle Eastern network expansion

CARBON WORLDS
Epic says Apple court fight is 'lost'

US, UK strikes targeted Huthi radar, missile capabilities: defense chief

D-Orbit Secures Record euro 100m in Series C Funding, Advancing Space Logistics and In-Orbit Services

NASA's Cryo Efforts Beyond the Atmosphere

CARBON WORLDS
Study uncovers potential origins of life in ancient hot springs

Earth-sized planet discovered in 'our solar backyard'

Astronomers make rare exoplanet discovery

Old stars may be the best places to search for life, new study suggests

CARBON WORLDS
New images reveal what Neptune and Uranus really look like

Researchers reveal true colors of Neptune, Uranus

The PI's Perspective: The Long Game

Webb rings in the holidays with the ringed planet Uranus

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


ADVERTISEMENT



The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.