Tag Archives: global carbon cycle

Carbon hotspots: Rivers and streams leak more CO2 than thought

The amount of carbon dioxide escaping from rivers and streams into the atmosphere is much larger than previously thought, according to a new study that maps for the first time the flux of CO2 from inland waters worldwide. Published in the journal Nature, the research reveals the major role these waterways play in the global carbon cycle, the authors said.

“This study solidifies the significance of inland waters as conduits of exchange and provides a framework for inclusion of this exchange in regional and global studies,” said lead author Peter A. Raymond, a professor of ecosystem ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). “Understanding how ecosystems exchange carbon is important, as they currently offset a significant percentage of emissions caused by human activity.” (more…)

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Tracking Sediments’ Fate in Largest-Ever Dam Removal

Salmon are beginning to swim up the Elwha River for the first time in more than a century. But University of Washington marine geologists are watching what’s beginning to flow downstream — sediments from the largest dam-removal project ever undertaken.

The 108-foot Elwha Dam was built in 1910, and after decades of debate it was finally dismantled last year. Roughly a third of the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam still stands, holding back a mountain of silt, sand and gravel. (more…)

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Scientists Discover New Trigger for Immense North Atlantic Ocean Spring Plankton Bloom

Ocean eddies help jump-start plankton blooms that spread across hundreds of square miles

On this July 4th week, U.S. beachgoers are thronging their way to seaside resorts and parks to celebrate with holiday fireworks. But across the horizon and miles out to sea toward the north, the Atlantic Ocean’s own spring and summer ritual unfolds. It entails the blooming of countless microscopic plants, or phytoplankton.

In what’s known as the North Atlantic Bloom, an immense number of phytoplankton burst into existence, first “greening,” then “whitening” the sea as one or more species take the place of others.

What turns on this huge bloom, what starts these ocean fireworks? Is it the Sun’s warmth? (more…)

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Long-Term Carbon Storage in Ganges Basin May Portend Global Warming Worsening

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists have found that carbon is stored in the soils and sediments of the Ganges-Brahmaputra basin for a surprisingly long time, making it likely that global warming could destabilize the pool of carbon there and in similar places on Earth, potentially increasing the rate of CO2 release into the atmosphere.

The study, published in the current online edition of Nature Geoscience, examined the radiocarbon content of river sediments collected from the Ganges-Brahmaputra system draining the Himalayas. The basin, the scientists say, “represents one of the largest sources of terrestrial biospheric carbon to the ocean.” (more…)

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Identical Virus, Host Populations Can Prevail for Centuries, WHOI Researcher Reports

A Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientist, analyzing ancient plankton DNA signatures in sediments of the Black Sea, has found for the first time that the same genetic populations of a virus and its algal host can persist and coexist for centuries. The findings have implications for the ecological significance of viruses in shaping algae ecosystems in the ocean, and perhaps fresh water as well.

“The finding that the DNA of viruses and algal host cells can be preserved in the geological records is of great interest to microbial ecologists,” said Marco Coolen of WHOI’s Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry department and author of the study, which appears in the July 22 issue of Science. “This offers unprecedented insights into long-term algal, viral, and host population dynamics between globally important algae and their viral pathogens in the ocean.” (more…)

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New NASA Map Reveals Tropical Forest Carbon Storage

PASADENA, Calif. – A NASA-led research team has used a variety of NASA satellite data to create the most precise map ever produced depicting the amount and location of carbon stored in Earth’s tropical forests. The data are expected to provide a baseline for ongoing carbon monitoring and research and serve as a useful resource for managing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

The new map, created from ground- and space-based data, shows, for the first time, the distribution of carbon stored in forests across more than 75 tropical countries. Most of that carbon is stored in the extensive forests of Latin America. (more…)

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War, Plague No Match for Deforestation in Driving CO2 Buildup

Stanford, CA —  Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes had an impact on the global carbon cycle as big as today’s annual demand for gasoline. The Black Death, on the other hand, came and went too quickly for it to cause much of a blip in the global carbon budget. Dwarfing both of these events, however, has been the historical trend towards increasing deforestation, which over centuries has released vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as crop and pasture lands expanded to feed growing human populations. Even Genghis Kahn couldn’t stop it for long. (more…)

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