Water Spouts will speak volubly and endlessly about all the issues concerning water. The ongoing degradation, and growing scarcity, of the water supply here in the US, and the rest of the world. The continued absence of potable water in so many parts of the world. The work being done by NGOs, and charities, in the third world, to help alleviate the situation. The emphasis on WASH ( Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene ) so health and healthy water are maintained. "Water Spouts" will spout it all out.
Trees Absorb Less Carbon in Warming World Than Experts Have Assumed
A new study says trees are absorbing 3.4 percent less carbon than
has been assumed, including in models used to prepare the IPCC reports.
Trees may not be the planetary saviors people have been counting on in a warming climate.
A new study shows that while trees certainly help counteract rising
temperatures, they are absorbing 3.4 percent less carbon than had been
assumed in models used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. More CO2 in the atmosphere means more warming.
According to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it all comes down to how the trees react to sunlight.
One of the basic assumptions has been that warmer conditions created
by climbing levels of the greenhouse gas CO2 would extend the growing
period. The longer season would, theoretically, allow trees to absorb
more carbon through photosynthesis.
In the first half of the season, that appears to be true. Earlier and
warmer springs let trees leaf out sooner. But late in the season, trees
can't do much with the extra warmth. Bill Bauerle,
an ecophysiologist at Colorado State University and lead author of the
study, told InsideClimate News that trees' carbon intake drops way off
in late summer and early fall, even when temperatures stay high.
"Plants are not able to capitalize on that (added warmth) as much as
we thought," he said.
"The trees look perfectly healthy, and you'd think
they'd be physiologically active, but they're not."
Bauerle first noticed that trees weren't very active late in the
summer while in South Carolina. It was a very warm September, and he had
set up devices to measure the local trees' gas exchange system—how much
CO2 they were taking in, and how much water they were putting out. He
found that the trees' biomechanical activity had basically shut down,
despite the warmth.
He and the team, which included researchers from Canada and Sweden,
also looked at leaf levels in Colorado and supplemented that data set
with published measurements taken elsewhere, including California.
They found that after the summer solstice—the longest day of the
year, on or around June 21—photosynthesis gradually decreases. By late
summer, no matter what the temperatures are, trees start to get ready
for winter vacation. They're sequestering only about 20 percent of the
carbon they had sequestered during the peak growing period.
Bauerle is confident that the team's findings are solid and that
correcting the current formula for trees' carbon-absorption capacity
will help improve the accuracy of future climate models. The corrections
will have the biggest impact on carbon-intake estimates for the boreal
forests of the Northern Hemisphere, where day length fluctuates the
a post-doctoral scholar at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in
San Diego who has studied boreal forest in Alaska and Siberia since
2000, said she wished the study had addressed springtime carbon
absorption, too. But she said the research does help further the
understanding of how trees respond to climate change.
"Just because temperatures warm up, if there's not enough sunlight,
you're kind of stuck," said Welp, who has a Ph.D. in environmental
science and engineering and works in the carbon dioxide research group
Bauerle doesn't want to leave the impression that trees aren't a key
part of the formula for mitigating the impacts of climate change, or
that continued deforestation won't make matters much worse.
"Trees are still a very good thing," he said. "We should still plant
trees. But we need to realize there's a limit to what they can do."
Timber Use and CO2 Levels
When forests are cleared, how the tree products are used has a big
influence on atmospheric CO2 levels, according to a new study out of the
University of California, Davis.
If the felled trees are turned into solid wood products, such as
timber for construction, much of the trees' carbon is effectively
sequestered for decades. But if the wood is used for bioenergy or turned
into pulp for paper, almost all of the carbon is quickly released back
into the atmosphere.
Lead author J. Mason Earles, a doctoral student with the UC Davis
Institute of Transportation Studies, said previous models assumed that
when forests were cleared, all the carbon was released immediately. But
the study, published earlier this month in the journal Nature Climate
Change, found that 30 years after a forest is cleared, the amount of
carbon that might remain in storage varies from 0 percent to 62 percent.
The researchers looked at how 169 countries harvest their forests. In
Canada, the U.S. and Europe, forests are used primarily for solid wood
products. In tropical forests of the Southern Hemisphere, energy and
paper production are the main uses.
The findings have implications for the biofuel industry and could
enter into land-use decisions around the globe. If the U.S. were to
increase incentives for corn-based ethanol production, for example, less
profitable crops, such as soybeans, might shift to other countries. And
if those nations cleared forests for crop production, how those tree
products would be used would affect the global CO2 equation.
Giant Firestorms a New Phenomenon
Officials with the National Weather Service said last week that much
of the country faces increased odds of a warmer-than-usual summer. That
warmth, combined with continued drought, has created an elevated fire
risk across much of the American West, which has already experienced
wildfires this spring.
Fire there is nothing new; it has been a part of the region's ecology for millenniums. But a new study
has found that the massive blazes that have destroyed millions of acres
in recent years are unprecedented in the long-term record, especially
in the Southwest.
Researchers at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and the
University of Arizona studied tree-ring records that go back more than
1,500 years. They wanted to see if today's hot, dry climate alone is
responsible for the megafires.
They found a common trigger for fires: a couple of wet years followed
by an exceptionally dry one. But the tree-ring record showed no signs
of the intense, canopy-destroying blazes that have occurred in recent
decades. More than a century ago, low-severity surface fires were the
Extreme droughts caused by climate change may be setting the stage
for fires, but their severity is probably much greater because of a
century of livestock grazing and firefighting, concluded the study,
published in the scientific journal The Holocene. Decades of
fire suppression have allowed dead material to build up on forest floors
and live vegetation to become dense and overcrowded. The accumulated
fuels make the forests more vulnerable than ever to extreme droughts.
Study co-author and fire anthropologist Christopher I. Roos, from SMU, said climate change has made it urgent that we fix these problems in the forests.
"The forests may be equipped to handle the climate change, but not in
the condition that they're currently in," Roos said. "They haven't been
in that condition before."