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Warming Rain Forests May Release More Carbon Than Manmade Sources

Working with data from 116 plots of rain forests around the tropics, researchers from Australia’s CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship and Sustainable Ecosystems, as well as CSIRO’s Global Carbon Project, have found that increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide is killing trees at a faster rate than it is stimulating growth in the trees that survive warmer climes.

Tropical rain forests have so far absorbed an estimated one billion tons of carbon a year from CO2 in the atmosphere, and “hopes have been high,” according to the researchers, that the forests would soak up even more in the future as the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere grows. However, they found that the opposite is happening: although individual tree growth is stimulated by increased atmospheric CO2, the warmer climate that comes with increased greenhouse gases is causing more trees to die.

This increased mortality in rain forests trees is projected to release 24.5 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere over time for every degree Celsius the temperature rises. Man-made emissions of greenhouse gases reached a peak of 10 billion tons CO2 equivalent in 2007.

The significant thing about this is that we expect to see a pattern of reduced uptake of carbon in rain forest around the tropics,” says David Hilbert, Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO Tropical Forest Research Centre, Queensland Australia. The research indicates that even if warming can be contained within the two degrees that is popularly cited as relatively safe, the world’s rain forests will nevertheless lose almost 50 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere, in effect cutting its mitigation efficiency in half. The authors of the paper further estimate that a warming of 4 or more degrees Celsius (7.2 ºF) may increase tropical rain forest tree mortality enough to shift the forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources.

The paper will be presented in full at the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen next week. The congress was created in response to an acceleration of key climate change indicators subsequent to the publishing of the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Work has begun on the Fifth Assessment Report, scheduled to be published in 2013.

—Jack Rosebro

Comments

Peace Hugger

I'm curious that no one has reported on the March 2nd release of Carbon Sciences so for the benefit of fellow ecological minded readers, I show you an extract.

"Carbon Sciences...announced the completion of its highly-anticipated prototype, engineered to demonstrate the company's proprietary biocatalytic CO2-to-Fuel process.

Applying Carbon Sciences' patent-pending technology in a laboratory scale prototype, the company has successfully transformed a stream of CO2 gas into methanol fuel. The demonstration prototype uses Carbon Sciences' innovative biocatalytic process to break down CO2 and water, then combines the carbon and hydrogen to form methanol, a low level liquid fuel. The resulting methanol is directly usable as a fuel, or it can be used to build higher-level fuels such as gasoline, butanol and jet fuel. The company is currently underway with the design and development of expanded biocatalytic process technologies to create these higher-level fuels from CO2.

"This is a major milestone for Carbon Sciences," said Byron Elton, President and COO of Carbon Sciences. "The prototype demonstrates that our CO2-to-Fuel concept works. More importantly, it provides our technology team evidence that we are headed in the right direction. We can now successfully demonstrate what we have always believed -- that CO2, the very cause of the problem, provides the solution to the world's energy and climate challenges."

Hailed by USA Today as the company "furthest along in the CO2-to-fuels quest," Carbon Sciences' technology that transforms CO2 into fuel provides the most direct path and a substantial cost advantage over other renewable fuel technologies such as those based on terrestrial crops.

Mannstein

The eco freaks will surely find some reason to shoot down this technology. It never fails.

sulleny

"although individual tree growth is stimulated by increased atmospheric CO2, the warmer climate that comes with increased greenhouse gases is causing more trees to die."

Except um... the earth has been cooling for the past ten years!!

http://tinyurl.com/bpuzlp

Reel$$

Global Warming...???

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29469287/

Kelly

Thanks for the link, Reel$$:

"Swanson thinks the trend could continue for up to 30 years. But he warned that it's just a hiccup, and that humans' penchant for spewing greenhouse gases will certainly come back to haunt us.

"When the climate kicks back out of this state, we'll have explosive warming," Swanson said. "Thirty years of greenhouse gas radiative forcing will still be there and then bang, the warming will return and be very aggressive."

It does help to read beyond the headline.

Reel$$

@Kelly:

The report also says: "Swanson and colleague Anastasios Tsonis think a series of climate processes have aligned, conspiring to chill the climate."

Hmmm. It's that old conspirator Mother Nature out to get the alarmists most likely.

BTW, thirty years hence and we'll see a significant drop in GHG produced by transportation as the world will have gone to EVs and PHEVS. But that's positive news now isn't it?

arnold

Peacehugger,
Although you diverge from the topic, it is plain that concentrated carbon is a rich component that will be a component of real green fuels as there is an energy
saving when this component is supplied as a byproduct in industrial grade and quantity as may occur in say a pem fuel cell byproduct of high analysis.
The highest performance ( from a greenhouse perspective) would be biofuel application.
Mani, sulley and reel seem to be able to find a denialist or suckhole answer for every circumstance but I wonder what Stan demo's take is on this?

"although individual tree growth is stimulated by increased atmospheric CO2, the warmer climate that comes with increased greenhouse gases is causing more trees to die."

That's a report from Commonwealth Science Industry Research Organisation if you missed the title.

But I'm sure Stan can enlighten us.


I wanted to
state is woul when yvingred

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