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China's new Climate Center welcomes citizen scientists

The China Regional Climate Center, the newest of five international sites where volunteers work with scientists to conduct the world's largest experiment on the effects of climate change on forests, opened Sept. 22 in Gutianshan National Nature Reserve in eastern China.

"It is extremely rewarding to collaborate with scientists in China and with HSBC bank volunteers as we begin to comprehend the effects of climate change on forest dynamics around the world," said Stuart Davies, director of the Center for Tropical Forest Science, a network of 34 independent long-term forest study sites coordinated by STRI and Harvard's Arnold Arboretum,

The HSBC Climate Partnership, a collaboration between HSBC bank, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Earthwatch Institute, World Wildlife Fund and the Climate Group, now has regional climate centers in India, England, Brazil and the United States where citizen scientists experience the forest firsthand.

Earthwatch and the Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academy of Sciences host HSBC bank employees as they travel to Gutianshan National Nature Reserve in eastern China to measure trees using techniques developed by the Center for Tropical Forest Science. Tree growth is one of the best indicators of the quantity of carbon that trees absorb from the atmosphere.

The CTFS began as an experiment to understand tropical biodiversity nearly 30 years ago in Panama, and it is now the best tool available to understand on-the-ground effects of global change on forests. Scientists use a standard method to measure more than 3 million trees representing 8,000 species to see how the forest reacts to changes in temperature, carbon dioxide levels and other constantly changing environmental variables.

In 2005, Ma Keping and colleagues from the Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academy of Sciences set up a long-term forest monitoring site in Gutianshan National Nature Reserve in the Yangtze valley. Gutianshan's subtropical, evergreen trees grow on steeply sloping terrain. Relatively little is known about the response of subtropical forest to climate change.

The Climate Partnership aims to further scientific understanding of climate change as it inspires bank employees, their families and friends to become advocates for a healthy environment.


Contact: Beth King
703-487-3770 x8216
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

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