Archive by category | Biosphere feedbacks

Methane, it’s a gas

Methane, it's a gas

If carbon dioxide is trump, then methane is the joker in the greenhouse game. The flammable gas (CH4) is produced in wetlands, landfills and in the guts of cattle and sheep, and it is stored in vast amounts in so-called clathrates, or gas hydrates, in the ocean floor.  Read more

Trees of the Ages

Hard to believe: The long-standing notion that old forests are carbon neutral – that is, that from a certain age forests cease to absorb and accumulate carbon – has its origin from a mere decade worth of data from one single site.  Read more

A tribute to the trees

A tribute to the trees

For all tree huggers out there, this week’s Science is dedicated to ‘forests in flux’, paying tribute to the trees and their contribution to the greater good. A special collection of articles in print, with complementary and online material, examines the fate of the world’s forests, in the face of climate change and an escalating human population. If it’s been a while since you’ve had the chance to appreciate the languid leafiness of forest foliage, check out the online video. Or for those of you hoping for a more ‘hands on’ experience, there’s a whole section of Science Careers dedicated  … Read more

Biomass boosting

Biomass boosting

Cross-posted from The Great Beyond

Over at Canada’s Financial Post, Lawrence Solomon is excited about the increase in biomass over the past two decades.

Planet Earth is on a roll! GPP is way up. NPP is way up. To the surprise of those who have been bearish on the planet, the data shows global production has been steadily climbing to record levels, ones not seen since these measurements began.

This is neither new nor surprising.

Dry outlook for the Amazon rain forest

One of the more irritating aspects, if you will, of global change is that air pollution has so far prevented the planet from warming more rapidly than it actually did. Clean air is of course a good thing. But reducing pollution might expose an as of yet ‘masked’ portion of global warming.  Read more

EGU: North Atlantic Ocean may regain status as carbon sink

The North Atlantic Ocean may still be an active storehouse for atmospheric carbon dioxide, said scientists at the European Geosciences Union here in Vienna yesterday.  Read more

More on those pumps (hoisted from comments)

Lovelock and Rapley (Nature, 449,403, 2007) put forward the idea that by pumping up nutrient rich deep oceanic water, the subsequent stimulation of planktonic photosynthetic production would give rise to a very significant drawdown atmospheric CO2. The concept is flawed scientifically on two accounts.

Bad news for the trees?

Over at News@nature, Mike Hopkin reports from the Ecological Society of America’s meeting in San Jose on research into tropical forest growth rates. Looking at plots in Panama and Malaysia, the researchers found that increases in mean daily minimum temperature over a couple of decades correlated with decreases in growth rates. They associate this with lower net photosynthetic activity.

More on geoengineering

Further to the post and subsequent discussion on Sunshades, which grew out of this article on geoengineering, I thought I’d point to the new paper by Damon Matthews and Ken Caldeira in PNAS (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.0700419104). It’s an interesting paper that has some fascinating insights into the links between climate and the carbon cycle, and I think contains some pretty bad news for would-be geoengineers.  Read more