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Russian boreal forests undergoing vegetation change, study shows
Date:3/28/2011

of environmental sciences. "Warming creates more warming."

The researchers used a climate model to assess what would happen if evergreens continued to expand their range farther north and larch species declined. The "positive feedback" cycle of warming promoting warming showed an increase of absorbed surface warming. The model takes into account detailed information about tree growth rates, and the results agree with actual field studies documenting changes in cone production and movement of evergreen treelines northward.

"Such changes in that vast region have the potential to affect areas outside of the region," Shuman noted.

The Russian boreal forest sits over a tremendous repository of carbon-rich soil frozen in the permafrost. As the forest changes in species distribution from larch to evergreens, warming of the ground surface would cause decomposition of the soil, releasing huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere possibly as much as 15 percent of the carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere.

"This is not the scenario one would want to see," Shugart said. "It potentially would increase warming on a global scale."


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Contact: Fariss Samarrai
fls4f@virginia.edu
434-924-3778
University of Virginia
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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