Mar 30, 2010

Aspen to the Rescue

The rising level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is making some trees grow by 50% is a finding of a new study of natural stands of quaking aspen, one of North America's most important and widespread deciduous trees. The study, by scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Minnesota at Morris (UMM) and published Dec. 4, 2009 in the journal Global Change Biology, shows that elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide during the past 50 years have boosted aspen growth rates by an astonishing 50 percent.

The findings are important as the world's forests, which cover about 30 percent of the Earth's land surface, play an important role in regulating climate and sequestering greenhouses gases. The forests of the Northern Hemisphere, in particular, act as sinks for carbon dioxide, helping to offset increased levels of carbon dioxide.

Aspen is a dominant tree in mountainous and northern forested regions of North America, including 42 million acres of Canadian forest and up to 6.5 million acres in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

"We can't forecast ecological change. It's a complicated business," explains Waller, a UW-Madison professor of botany. Carbon dioxide is food for plants, which extract it from the air and through photosynthesis convert it to sugar, plant food. Seems to me nature is healing itself. Hmmm, wonder if that news is in the Global expletive findings?