Jason Hamilton, Department of Biology, presented the following poster:
E.H. DeLucia, D.J. Moore, J.G. Hamilton, A. Finzi, J. Pippen, W.H. Schlesinger, R.J. Norby.
"The Changing Role of Forests in the Global Carbon Cycle: Responses to Elevated Atmospheric CO2," presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California, December 2003.
The combustion of fossil fuels is injecting vast quantities of CO2 in the atmosphere and driving an increase in global temperatures. Forests contribute half or more of global net primary production and approximately 80 percent of terrestrial productivity and thus play a central role in the global carbon cycle.
Using free-air CO2 enrichment technology to expose plots within intact forests to the level of CO2 anticipated in 2050, it was discovered that net ecosystem productivity (NEP) and net primary productivity (NPP) in loblolly pine and sweetgum forests were substantially increased. Imbalances in the N cycle may reduce the response of these forests to elevated CO2 in the future.
The stimulation of forest productivity will slow the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, but if these forests are representative of forests globally, the observed stimulation of productivity is insufficient to reverse the accumulation fossil-fuel derived C in the atmosphere.