Category Archives: Climate Change

Learning About Food Security From Neolithic Farmers

Millets have an unparalleled genetic diversity both because of their long history of cultivation, and because they’ve been grown in so many regions of the world, including very harsh ones. This means they’ve retained the wild traits that give them resilience to changes in growing conditions. They don’t need much water, they grow quickly, and they have a great nutritional balance. (Click on title for full story.)

What, Exactly, Causes Trees To Die During Drought?

How trees respond to drought is important for models used to predict climate change. Plants take up a large portion of the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere — fewer trees means more CO2. Sudden large-scale changes in plant populations, such as the tree die-offs observed worldwide in recent decades, could affect the rate at which climate changes. Current global vegetation models have faced challenges in producing consistent estimates of plant CO2 uptake, scientists say. The predictions vary widely depending on assumptions about how plants respond to climate. One idea for improving the models is to base forest responses to climate change on how trees die in response to heat, drought and other stresses. (CLick on title for full story.)

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Cash Payments To Preserve Trees In Uganda Pay Dividends

A two-year project that paid a total of US$20,000 to 180 people in 60 Ugandan villages not to cut down trees on their land was worth the money, researchers say. By delaying carbon dioxide emissions, the project’s benefits to society were more than double its costs. (click on title for full story.)

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Some Plants Grow So Slowly They Require More Than One Botanist’s Lifetime For Proper Study

In 1974, a graduate student named David Inouye marked a small plant in an alpine meadow in Colorado with an aluminum tag. Forty-three years later, Inouye, now a professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, is still waiting for it to flower. “I’m hoping I live long enough,” he says. (Click on title for full story.)

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Pollution Interferes With Plants’ Ability To Take Up CO2

The exceptionally high levels of surface ozone, aerosol particles, and other air pollutants in China are damaging plants and interfering with their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, according to a new study. (Click on title for full story.)

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The Greening Of Antarctica

Researchers in Antarctica have discovered rapidly growing banks of mosses on the ice continent’s northern peninsula, providing striking evidence of climate change in the coldest and most remote parts of the planet. Amid the warming of the last 50 years, the scientists found two different species of mosses undergoing the equivalent of growth spurts, with mosses that once grew less than a millimeter per year now growing over 3 millimeters per year on average. (Click on title for full stroy.)

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Soil Fungi Ease The Way For Climate Induced Tree Migration

A 2010 U.S. Forest Service study found that 70 percent of tree species are already showing tree range migration, with maple, beech and birch potentially gone entirely in the Northeast by 2100. (Click on title for full story.)

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Could We Manage Mangrove Communities To Increase Carbon Capture?

Of all the carbon buried in the floors of Earth’s oceans, most of it is found in the narrow strip of tidal marshes, seagrass beds, and mangroves along their edge. Known as blue carbon ecosystems, these vegetated coastal habitats “occupy only 0.2% of the ocean surface, yet contribute 50% of the total amount of carbon buried in marine sediments. Meter for meter, they’re some of the most effective carbon storage systems we have. But could people make them even more effective? (Click on title for full story.)

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Climate Change + Fire Will Replace Forests With Shrublands

Although most of these cone-bearing evergreen softwood trees are well adapted to fire, the study examines whether two likely facets of climate change—hotter, drier conditions and larger, more frequent, or more intense wildfires—could potentially transform landscapes from forested to shrub-dominated systems. “Our study helps to identify the places that are at greatest risk of forest loss, where managers could either target management to promote post-fire forest recovery, or accept that we’re going to see some degree of landscape transformation in the coming decades and learn to meet ecological objectives under the new climate and disturbance regimes,” (Click on title for full story.)

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Can A Return To Ancient Crops Make Agriculture Sustainable?

Farmers who grow single crops are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but now researchers are resurrecting ancient crop varieties to encourage diversity and offset the risks of extreme weather. (Click on title for full story.)