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Which Way Will the Amateur Dendros Go?

February 2, 2010

A recent NAS study suggests that trees in the Chesapeake region are growing at a faster rate than they have been in the past. Some scientists hypothesize that this may be due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thereby suggesting that forests may be able to absorb more CO2 than previously thought. To establish this, the scientists in question relied on…wait for it… tree ring studies, an otherwise maligned bastard child of the climate science community. So the question is whether this new finding counts as support for the claim that climate change may not be as dramatic as has been projected.

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3 comments

  1. “Some scientists hypothesize that this may be due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thereby suggesting that forests may be able to absorb more CO2 than previously thought. To establish this, the scientists in question relied on…wait for it… tree ring studies”

    Why would they do that? There are many experimental field studies where trees have been grown with elevated CO2. It does indeed make them happy and they increase their growth. For example:

    Greenhouse gas carbon dioxide ramps up aspen growth
    http://www.news.wisc.edu/17436

    The rising level of atmospheric carbon dioxide may be fueling more than climate change. It could also be making some trees grow like crazy.

    That is the 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 UW-Madison and the University of Minnesota at Morris (UMM) and published today (Dec. 4) 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.


  2. Don’t know. I’m not a scientist.


  3. Tree ring data related to tree growth and age is not maligned.

    It is using tree ring data as a proxy for temperature that seems to not be working correctly (at least in the last 50 years or so) – this is the so called divergence problem we have all read so much about.

    I think this study sound entirely reasonable – and would expect that greater CO2 will posively impact the growth of all plants.

    This will over time pull CO2 out of the atmosphere and lock it in the soil – but I have no idea of the relative magnitude of the increase in temperature related to increased CO2 and the increased productivity of the biosphere in decreasing CO2 by more growth.

    I am sure we will see lots of interesting studies on questions like these in the future.



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