Monday, January 21, 2013

Shock news: 'The overall potential for [plant] growth increases as the climate warms'

This also just in: Elevated CO2 improves plant nutrition and is a boon to crop production

Climate Change's Effects On Temperate Rain Forests Surprisingly Complex

Jan. 18, 2013 — Longer, warmer growing seasons associated with a changing climate are altering growing conditions in temperate rain forests, but not all plant species will be negatively affected, according to research conducted by the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Research featured in the January 2013 issue of Science Findings -- a monthly publication of the station -- reveals a complex range of forest plant responses to a warming climate.

"Although the overall potential for growth increases as the climate warms, we found that plant species differ in their ability to adapt to these changing conditions," said Tara Barrett, a research forester with the station who led the study.

Barrett and her colleagues explored trends in forest composition in southeastern and south-central Alaska, home to the bulk of the world's temperate rain forests. The researchers found an uptick in growth in higher elevations of the region over the 13-year period, with an almost eight-percent increase in live-tree biomass, a measure of tree growth. Individual species within the rain forest, however, differed -- western redcedar biomass increased by four percent, while shore pine declined by almost five percent.

As forest managers consider climate impacts like these in the management of their forests, scientists, including Barrett and research biologist David L. Peterson, are communicating climate change science within the agency, helping managers -- in Alaska and beyond -- to meet this challenge.

In another research effort, featured in the December 2012 issue of Science Findings, Peterson summarized the scientific basis for climate change adaptation. He and his colleagues across the country have conducted case studies that revealed the critical role of science-management partnerships in adaptation planning and have produced a climate change guidebook and Web portal for climate science information.

"The main objective is to get science in the hands of managers so that they have the basic information, but also have access to the documentation they need to do their jobs," said Peterson.

Further information:

The usually accepted optimum temperature for most plants is 80' F

Related links from CO2 Science:

Wood Density: Atmospheric CO2 enrichment tends to increase wood density in both seedlings and mature trees more often than not, thereby also increasing a number of strength properties of their branches and trunks.

Our latest results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature are: Scandinavian Small Reed (Bussell et al., 2012) and Tropical Soda Apple (Diaz et al., 2012).

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