Study Suggests Trees Are Bulking Up Because Of Climate Change

By: | October 9th, 2022

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According to new research by Ohio State University scientists trees are turning into gluttons. Study reveals that elevated carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased the wood volume. Not only that, but the older large trees are also bulking up due to increased carbon in our atmosphere. 

Researchers found that increasing carbon levels have resulted in raising the wood volume in 10 different temperate forest groups across the US. However other factors like climate and pests also affect a tree’s volume. This suggests that nature is trying to help us by protecting the Earth’s ecology from the effects of global warming. 

 “Forests are taking carbon out of the atmosphere at a rate of about 13 percent of our gross emissions,” said Brent Sohngen, co-author of the study. “While we’re putting billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we’re actually taking much of it out just by letting our forests grow.”

Carbon fertilization

Although climate change has disturbed our ecosystem, trees are the exception. An increase in the levels of carbon dioxide is resulting in an increasing plant’s rate of photosynthesis. As a result, trees are growing larger. This phenomenon is known as carbon fertilization.

“It’s well known that when you put a ton of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it doesn’t stay up there forever,” Sohngen said. “A massive amount of it falls into the oceans, while the rest of it is taken up by trees and wetlands and those kinds of areas.”

Researchers observed that in the last 20 years, US forests have stored about 10–11% of the nation’s overall CO2 emissions. That amounts to about 700–800 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

Sohngen concludes, “Carbon fertilization certainly makes it cheaper to plant trees, avoid deforestation, or do other activities related to trying to enhance the carbon sink in forests,” 

“We should be planting more trees and preserving older ones because at the end of the day they’re probably our best bet for mitigating climate change.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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