Conference organiser, Academy Professor Markku Kulmala from University of Helsinki, Finland says:
- Humans have commandeered over 75 per cent of the land on the Earth outside of Greenland and Antarctica. How we manage this land this century will be a major factor in whether we can stabilise global greenhouse gas emissions.
Previous work suggests old forests stop growing so they have limited value in removing excess carbon from the atmosphere. Professor Munger and colleagues from the United States will discuss the value of mature forests in storing carbon. This would imply that policymakers should focus on developing newer forests. But the new research to be presented at the conference suggests we should not be so hasty. Contrary to what might be expected, Professor Munger and colleagues found that the 100-year-old Harvard Forest in central Massachusetts has in fact speeded up its carbon intake over the last two decades. This is primarily because of the increase in biodiversity and structural complexity in the forest over time.
- Continued carbon uptake by mature forests is an important benefit to society. We can ensure that old forests continue to take up carbon if we develop policy and management practices that allow these forests to grow undisturbed, Professor Munger concludes.
Other researchers are focusing on how soil affects climate, and have found intriguing links between soil moisture and rainfall. Different soil types (sand, clay, silt) and their ability to retain water can have a significant effect on the occurrence of rainfall and heat waves.
- Changes in soil type can change mean summer temperature by about 2 degrees Celsius because of changes in evaporation rates. Similarly, mean summer precipitation can change by over 20 per cent because of changes in water vapour input into the atmosphere, says Benot Guillod, a Swiss soil-atmosphere researcher from ETH Zrich.
Also in the Sahel region in Wes
|Contact: Tanja Suni|
University of Helsinki