If we know the height of the world’s forests, then we can estimate how much carbon they store. That will improve our understanding of how forests interact with the atmosphere and their role in mitigating climate change. To make those measurements, a collaboration including Brown University ecologist Jim Kellner is putting a sophisticated laser scanner on the International Space Station in 2019. (more…)
Tag Archives: forests
It’s shaping up to be a fiery summer across the United States. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, as of July 3, 45 large active wildfires are currently burning in 15 states. Combined, these fires have scorched nearly three-quarters of a million acres. Since January 1, wildfires have burned nearly 2.2 million acres across the country, including devastating blazes in Colorado and New Mexico. We asked JPL Climatologist Bill Patzert to discuss the recent wildfire outbreak and whether climate change is playing a role.
Q: The U.S. wildfire season is off to an active start. What factors have contributed to the recent rash of blazes?
Patzert: Across the West, out-of-control wildfires this summer have left a heartbreaking path of destruction. The primary condition that triggered these fires was an unusually dry and warm La Nina winter and spring. These conditions primed the Western U.S. for an incendiary summer. The arrival of a persistent, scorching high-pressure system over the Western and Central U.S. just exacerbated already dangerous conditions, which reached a tipping point when strong, gusty winds sent these fires rampaging across the landscape. From New Mexico to Colorado and many other states, out-of-control wildfires are still burning through forests, grasslands and destroying neighborhoods. (more…)
ANN ARBOR, Mich.— Loss of biodiversity appears to impact ecosystems as much as climate change, pollution and other major forms of environmental stress, according to a new study from an international research team.
The study is the first comprehensive effort to directly compare the impacts of biological diversity loss to the anticipated effects of a host of other human-caused environmental changes.
The results highlight the need for stronger local, national and international efforts to protect biodiversity and the benefits it provides, according to the researchers, who are based at nine institutions in the United States, Canada and Sweden. (more…)
ANN ARBOR, Mich.— The number of sugar maples in Upper Great Lakes forests is likely to decline in coming decades, according to University of Michigan ecologists and their colleagues, due to a previously unrecognized threat from a familiar enemy: acid rain.
Over the past four decades, sugar maple abundance has declined in some regions of the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, due largely to acidification of calcium-poor granitic soils in response to acid rain. (more…)
Interior Releases First-of-its-Kind Regional Study as Part of National Assessment of Carbon Storage in U.S. Ecosystems
*Report evaluates amount of carbon absorbed by wetlands, grasslands and forests in the Great Plains region*
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of the Interior today released the first in a series of regional studies measuring the amount of carbon stored in U.S. ecosystems. Published by Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the study examines the current and projected future carbon storage in the Great Plains region, as part of a nation-wide assessment.
“This is truly groundbreaking research that, for the first time, takes a landscape-level look at how our lands naturally store carbon and explores how we can encourage this capability in ways that enhance our stewardship of natural resources,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes. “Our landscapes are helping us to absorb carbon emissions that would otherwise contribute to atmospheric warming.” (more…)
Deforestation, considered by scientists to contribute significantly to global warming, has been shown by a Yale-led team to actually cool the local climate in northern latitudes, according to a paper published Nov. 17 in Nature.
“If you cut trees in the boreal region, north of 45 degrees latitude, you have a net cooling effect,” says Xuhui Lee, the study’s principal investigator and professor of meteorology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. “You release carbon into the atmosphere by cutting down trees, but you increase the albedo effect — the reflection of sunlight.” (more…)
*Invasive Asian longhorned beetle has potential for wide reach in region’s forests*
Are new England’s iconic maple trees at risk? If a beetle has its way, the answer may be yes.
Results from the first study of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) in forests show that the invasive insect can easily spread from tree-lined city streets to neighboring forests. (more…)
A Million-Dollar Question
Sleeping Beauty’s kingdom was overgrown by vines when she fell into a deep sleep. Researchers at the Smithsonian in Panama and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee received more than a million dollars from the U.S. National Science Foundation to discover why real vines are overtaking the American tropics. Data from eight sites show that vines are overgrowing trees in all cases.
“We are witnessing a fundamental structural change in the physical make-up of forests that will have a profound impact on the animals, human communities and businesses that depend on them for their livelihoods,” said Stefan Schnitzer, research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. (more…)