Skip to main content

Climate change could deal a blow to carbon storage capacity of forests: study (downtoearth)

In what could be yet another addition to the list of climate change impacts, the researchers from several universities have claimed that there could be a “startling drop” in the amount of carbon stored in the Sierra Nevada mountain range due to the changing climate and wildfire events.

The study, which focussed on “potential decline in carbon carrying capacity” of forests, was published in Scientific Reports.

According to Matthew Hurteau, Assistant Professor at University of New Mexico, and a co-author of the paper, the objective of the study has been to understand how rise in temperatures and decline in precipitation will alter carbon uptake in forests. The study also looked into the events like large-scale wildfires that leave forests with fewer trees for carbon sequestration.

About 50 per cent of all human-emitted carbon is absorbed by vegetation and the ocean, and is stored through natural processes. However, as forests undergo transformation due to global warming and large-scale fires, the amount of forest carbon uptake will decrease, thus, increasing the amount of anthropogenic carbon in the atmosphere.

What are the findings?

Based on simulations in the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range spanning across the western state of California and Nevada, scientists claim that the amount of carbon loss from forests could be as large as 663 teragrams (Tg). To give it a perspective, 663 Tg is equal to about 73 per cent of the total above ground carbon stock estimated in California vegetation in 2010.

Hurteau and his colleagues from Penn State and the University of California-Merced used climate projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and ecosystem model simulations. They looked at individual tree species in the mountain range to understand how projected climate change and wildfire will influence where those trees will be found in future and how quickly they will grow.

Significant changes in spatial distribution of dominant species’ regeneration due to changing temperature and precipitation distributions is likely to cause extensive vegetation type conversion. The researchers predicted that the expected carbon uptake will see huge decline across the Sierra Nevada mountain range over the next 250 years if nothing is done to arrest global warming trends.

California is already experiencing warmer and drier conditions due to global warming and certain tree species are not able to grow across particular geographical regions like they used to. The study asserts that temperature rise and drier conditions in Sierra Nevada will lead to slow growth of some tree species, thus, storing less carbon. Secondly, a projected increase in forest fires because of warmer, drier conditions will lead to release of large amount of carbon.

Solution proposed

The efective step to reduce risk of wildfires, according to researchers, is to actively thin forests to manage tree density. When fires break out, the impact would not be as severe as observed in forests that have not been thinned or cut.


Popular posts from this blog

Khar’s experimentation with Himalayan nettle brings recognition (downtoearth)

Nature never fails to surprise us. In many parts of the world, natural resources are the only source of livelihood opportunities available to people. They can be in the form of wild shrubs like Daphne papyracea and Daphne bholua (paper plant) that are used to make paper or Gossypium spp (cotton) that forms the backbone of the textile industry.

Nothing can compete with the dynamism of biological resources. Recently, Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in far-western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle. The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.

A Himalayan nettle value chain development initiative implemented by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiati…

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

Cloud seeding

Demonstrating the function of the flare rack that carries silver iodide for cloud-seeding through an aircraft. 
Water is essential for life on the earth. Precipitation from the skies is the only source for it. India and the rest of Asia are dependent on the monsoons for rains. While the South West Monsoon is the main source for India as a whole, Tamil Nadu and coastal areas of South Andhra Pradesh get the benefit of the North East Monsoon, which is just a less dependable beat on the reversal of the South West Monsoon winds.