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Team finds a better way to gauge the climate costs of land use changes
Date:1/8/2012

sts cool the land by evapotranspiration, but northern boreal forests have much lower evapotranspiration and are dark in comparison to open spaces. These factors give Amazon forests "the highest climate regulation value of all the ecoregions we studied," Anderson-Teixeira said.

Crops also have an enhanced climate-regulating value when their biophysical attributes are considered, DeLucia said.

"When considering only their effect on greenhouse gases, annually tilled row crops like corn tend to have a warming effect by contributing large quantities of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere," he said. "But when you factor in the ability to reflect solar energy and high rates of evapotranspiration, the net effect (compared with bare ground) is cooling."

Ecosystems perform a lot of other services of importance to humans and the planet, DeLucia said.

"While the climate-regulating value that we propose in this paper captures how ecosystems affect climate, it is important to note that this is only one of many services ecosystems provide," he said. "Ultimately the value of any given ecosystem to society must include these other services, including biodiversity, water purification and the production of food and fiber, to name just a few."

The researchers note that theirs is not the only valid way to quantify the climate services various ecosystems offer. But it captures more of the picture than previous methods have.

"We hope that this approach will help to design land-use policies that protect the climate," Anderson-Teixeira said.


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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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