MAY 29, 2020 9:33 AM PDT

Heat threshold identified for tropical forests' carbon storage capacities

A new study published in Science is hee first to analyze long-term climate sensitivity from observations of entire forests in the topics. The analysis encompassed measurements from over half a million trees in 813 forests across the tropics; it evaluated how much carbon stored by forests growing under different climatic conditions.

Conducted by an international research team, the study concluded that, given time to adapt, forests can handle heat up to an estimated threshold of 32 degrees Celsius in daytime temperature while still continuing to store high levels of CO2. 

"Our analysis reveals that up to a certain point of heating tropical forests are surprisingly resistant to small temperature differences. If we limit climate change they can continue to store a large amount of carbon in a warmer world,” commented lead author Dr. Martin Sullivan, from the University of Leeds and Manchester Metropolitan University. "The 32-degree threshold highlights the critical importance of urgently cutting our emissions to avoid pushing too many forests beyond the safety zone.

This 32-degree threshold isn’t something to joke about. The researchers say that for every degree over 32, four-times as much carbon dioxide will be released as compared to what would have been released below the threshold.

"For example, if we limit global average temperatures to a 2°C increase above pre-industrial levels this pushes nearly three-quarters of tropical forests above the heat threshold we identified. Any further increases in temperature will lead to rapid losses of forest carbon," adds Dr. Sullivan.

Photo: Pixabay

While the study highlights temperature as the most influential factor in carbon storage in tropical forests (tree-death by drought being the second most influential factor), the team cautions that we must heighten our conservation efforts. 

"Our results suggest that intact forests are able to withstand some climate change. Yet these heat-tolerant trees also face immediate threats from fire and fragmentation. Achieving climate adaptation means first of all protecting and connecting the forests that remain," states co-author Professor Beatriz Marimon from the State University of Mato Grosso in Brazil. 

Sources: Science, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
APR 22, 2020
Earth & The Environment
APR 22, 2020
5 Things You Didn't Know About Earth
Happy Earth Day! All though we should take action every day to appreciate our home, planet Earth. Today it gets a little ...
MAY 08, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAY 08, 2020
Lichen goldmine found in Alaska fjords
Did you hear the story of a fungus meeting algae, and they took a lichen to each other? Well, apparently it’s a pr ...
MAY 19, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 19, 2020
Seabirds Often Deal with Thieves When Scouting for Food
In the bird world, parental units will often split responsibilities. One typically stays behind at the nest to protect t ...
MAY 15, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAY 15, 2020
Can we harness the COVID-19 momentum?
Forced confinements during the COVID-19 global pandemic have resulted in altered energy demands internationally, reports ...
JUN 16, 2020
Plants & Animals
JUN 16, 2020
Desperate Polar Bear Mother Weighs Risks of Attacking Dangerous Walruses
Polar bears are being subjected to severe living conditions as the Arctic’s ice caps continue to melt, and without ...
JUN 26, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JUN 26, 2020
Another 2020 plague: locusts
2020 is determined to be a year to remember. On top of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the worst locust outbreak seen in o ...
Loading Comments...