Environment: Can adaptive grazing techniques help rebuild soils and sequester carbon?

Most modern cattle, including these longhorns near Silverthorne, Colorado, are descended from a

Adaptive grazing could have environmental benefits, researchers say. bberwyn photo.

Short-rotation pastures with long recovery time for fields may yield environmental benefits

Staff Report

FRISCO — While healthy forests are known to be important carbon sinks in the global atmospheric cycle, there’s also a role for robust soils, according to a study team that’s exploring whether new grazing management techniques could have long-term environmental benefits.

The Arizona State University-SoilCarbon Nation team is looking at adaptive multi-paddock grazing, rotating stock through small pastures for short periods of grazing and longer recovery periods for soil and vegetation.  The method mimics the migrations of wild herd animals, such as elk, bison and deer, and could help create robust soils, watersheds and wildlife habitat while sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide. Continue reading

Disturbances have big effect on carbon uptake in southeastern forests

Florida oak.

Florida oak.

‘Continued forest carbon accumulation in the region is highly sensitive to land use transitions’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Forest disturbances, such as fire, disease, and cutting, as well as the impacts of land use change, may be slowing the carbon uptake of southeastern U.S. forests, according to a new U.S. Forest Service study.

The research shows that future carbon accumulation rates are highly sensitive to land use changes. Land use choices that either reduce the rate of afforestation or increase the rate of deforestation are key factors in future forest carbon accumulation, the scientists concluded in their report, published in the journal Scientific Reports. Continue reading

Climate: Melting glaciers adding dissolved carbon to world’s oceans

Scientists eye impacts to high-latitude marine ecosystems

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Melting glaciers, like the Dachstein in Austria, may be a big source of dissolved carbon with the potential to affect downstream ecosystems. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — As if rising sea levels aren’t enough to worry about, U.S. Geological Survey scientists say melting glaciers may also adding significant amounts of carbon to the oceans, where it’s readily available to microscopic organisms at the base of the food chain.

By 2050, that carbon could total as much as 17 million tons, equal to about half of the annual flux of dissolved organic carbon from the Amazon River, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, cautioning that their calculations are subject to revision.

The study aimed to better understand the role glaciers play in the global carbon cycle, especially as climate warming continues to reduce glacier ice stores and release ice-locked organic carbon into downstream freshwater and marine ecosystems. Continue reading

Oceans: What triggers phytoplankton blooms?

New study will deepen understanding of plankton’s role in global carbon cycle

A European Space Agency satellite image shows a phytoplankton bloom near the Falkland Islands.

A European Space Agency satellite image shows a phytoplankton bloom near the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Scientists working in the Gulf of Mexico are tracking BP's spilled oil as it works its way up the food web, from bacteria to plankton. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

How does ocean phytoplankton respond to global warming?

Staff Report

FRISCO — It’s well-known that ocean phytoplankton are a key link in the global carbon cycle, and a new study this year will help expand that understanding.

A researcher with Oregon State University will lead a $30 million NASA-funded study to look at a phytoplankton hot spot stretching from Woods Hole, Massachusetts to the Azores and north to Greenland’s southern tip.

The research could challenge conventional wisdom about when and why phytoplankton bloom and help show how global warming will change the oceans. Continue reading

Study: Tropical forests still gulping huge amounts of carbon, but for how long?

The word's rainforests, shown in green, are going to suffer huge biodiversity losses as global temperatures rise.

The word’s tropical rainforests, shown in green, are more important carbon sinks than previously thought.

Carbon uptake in northern forests slows

Staff Report

FRISCO — Tropical forests are even more important carbon sinks than previously believed, according to a new study led by NASA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas. Continue reading

Climate: Logging leads to long-term release of carbon from soils in Northeastern hardwood forests

Findings challenge carbon-balance assumptions of woody biomass energy boosters

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A forest health logging site on Swan Mountain near Dillon, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Logging forests may have a more significant impact on carbon storage in soils than previously believed, Dartmouth College researchers found after taking a close look at at how timber harvesting affects mineral soil carbon over 100 years.

The study found that, while logging  doesn’t immediately release carbon stored in a forest’s mineral soils into the atmosphere, it triggers a gradual release that may contribute to climate change over decades. Continue reading

Tracking ancient greenhouse gas pulses shows climate trouble ahead

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Massive permafrost meltdown could lead to runaway warming.

Carbon cycle subject to major changes as permafrost melts

Staff Report

FRISCO — There’s yet more evidence that melting Arctic permafrost will amplify global warming by releasing huge amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

In the latest study, Scientists with the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research tracked a pulse of CO2 and other greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere about 14,600 years ago. Continue reading

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