Navigation Links
Killer freeze of '07 illustrates paradoxes of warming climate

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 5, 2008 -- A destructive spring freeze that chilled the eastern United States almost a year ago illustrates the threat a warming climate poses to plants and crops, according to a paper just published in the journal BioScience. The study was led by a team from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The "Easter freeze" of April 5-9, 2007, blew in on an ill wind. Plants had been sending out young and tender sprouts two to three weeks earlier than normal during an unusually warm March. Plant ecologists, as well as farmers and gardeners, took note of the particularly harsh turn of the weather in early April.

"The warm weather was as much a culprit for the damage as the cold," said lead author Lianhong Gu of ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division.

"We see the paradox in that mild winters and warm, early springs make the plants particularly vulnerable to late-season frosts," Gu said.

Gu's team observed satellite images and field data to establish the extent of the 2007 spring freeze. They also assessed the long-term and short-term effects on the terrestrial carbon cycle with respect to plant activity in normal years. Short-term effects were "profound," Gu said.

"In the period just after the freeze we saw a large reduction in the fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation, which is a sensitive indicator of plant growth," he said. "We also noted that the regrowth in the following weeks and months did not result in the levels of plant development in previous years."

Gu's team hypothesized that the freeze could have long-term effects on forest carbon uptake because of damage the cold did to the prematurely developed plant tissues, which could affect future growing seasons. The associated carbon and nutrient losses may affect growth in future years.

Beyond devastated horticultural crops, the study noted that some species suffered more than others. Yellow poplar trees were "surprisingly" slow to put out flushes of new leaves, and white oaks were particularly hard hit with freeze damage to both new leaves and flowers. On the other hand, trees located along shorelines--where the water stores heat--and underneath dense canopies seemed to be protected from the cold.

Compounding the stress on plants, as noted in the International Panel on Climate Change's fourth assessment report, is the prospect of prolonged droughts, which also occurred in the region last summer.

"This freeze should not be viewed as an isolated event; rather, it represents a realistic climate change scenario that has long concerned plant ecologists," Gu said.


Contact: Bill Cabage
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Related biology news :

1. Chemistry turns killer gas into potential cure
2. New hope for horse lovers as effective control for killer ragwort is proposed
3. Mixing large doses of both acetaminophen painkiller and caffeine may increase risk of liver damage
4. Will global warming increase plant frost damage?
5. A warming climate can support glacial ice
6. Losing more than we gain from autumn warming in the north
7. Carbon sink capacity in northern forests reduced by global warming
8. Major study concludes that global warming is killing off coral
9. El Niño affected by global warming
10. Global warming and other research from UCLA summit featured in journal
11. Ancient fish bones reveal impacts of global warming beneath the sea
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/2/2016)... The Department of Transport Management (DOTM) ... million US Dollar project, for the , Supply ... Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure , to ... implementation of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international vendors participated ... was selected for the most compliant and innovative ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... Ampronix facilitates superior patient care by providing unparalleled technology to leaders of ... the latest premium product recently added to the range of products distributed by Ampronix. ... ... ... Medical Display- Ampronix News ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... UAE, May 9, 2016 Elevay ... comes to expanding freedom for high net worth professionals ... in today,s globally connected world, there is still no ... could ever duplicate sealing your deal with a firm ... passports by taking advantage of citizenship via investment programs ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... for Amgen, will join the faculty of the University of North Carolina ... professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a focus on the ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... BOSTON , June 27, 2016   Ginkgo ... biology to industrial engineering, was today awarded as ... a selection of the world,s most innovative companies. ... at scale for the real world in the ... organism engineers work directly with customers including Fortune ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... SAN DIEGO , June 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... that more sensitively detects cancers susceptible to PARP ... individual circulating tumor cells (CTCs). The new test ... of HRD-targeted therapeutics in multiple cancer types. ... therapies targeting DNA damage response pathways, including PARP, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona ... or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject of a new article on the ... are signposts in the blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma patients that can ...
Breaking Biology Technology: