Navigation Links
Tropical forests mitigate extreme weather events
Date:12/18/2013

Tropical forests reduce peak runoff during storms and release stored water during droughts, according to researchers working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Their results lend credence to a controversial phenomenon known as the sponge effect, which is at the center of a debate about how to minimize flood damage and maximize water availability in the tropics.

During nearly 450 tropical storms, a team of visiting scientists from the University of Wyoming measured the amount of runoff from pastureland, abandoned pastureland and forested land as part of a large-scale land-use experiment in the Panama Canal watershed initiated by STRI.

Data collected by STRI staff and analyzed by University of Wyoming students indicate that land-use history has complex, long-term effects. "We measured large differences in hydrologic response between watersheds with different land-use histories and land cover," said Fred Ogden, STRI Senior Research Associate and Civil Engineering Professor at the University of Wyoming. "Our ultimate objective is to better understand these effects and include this improved understanding in a high-resolution hydrological model that we are developing to predict land-use effects in tropical watersheds."

"The result for storm peaks is spectacular," said Robert Stallard, hydrologist at STRI and the United States Geological Survey who developed the statistics for data analysis. "Storm-water runoff from grazed land is much higher than from forested land. The results are clearest after big storms." On the other hand, forests released more water than grasslands and mixed-use landscapes during the late dry season, pointing to the importance of forests in regulating water flow throughout the year in seasonal climates.

Evidence to support the sponge effect was lacking for tropical forests, leading some to question its validity. "One of reasons why there isn't more scientific evidence for the sponge effect is that you have to take what nature dishes out," said Stallard, a staunch proponent of the sponge effect, who is often seen wearing Sponge Bob socks. "It requires a long-term institutional commitment to get good results. The USGS, STRI, University of Wyoming and the Panama Canal Authority have the resources to do that."

Severe drought forced Panama Canal authorities to impose draft restrictions on transiting ships in 1997. In 2010, a major December storm system, examined in this study, halted shipping in the canal for 17 hours. Land use in the watershed not only affects world commerce but also water availability for Panama's major urban areas. The study is particularly relevant to land use decisions throughout the tropics where more than 50 percent of forests are now "secondary" forests that have grown back after logging or on abandoned pastureland.

The 700-hectare Panama watershed experiment, also known as Agua Salud, will run for 20 to 30 years, making it the largest ongoing study of land use in the tropics.

"Our project aims to clearly quantify environmental services such as water flow, carbon storage and biodiversity conservation that decision makers will consider as they evaluate projects from forest restoration to watershed management," said Jefferson Hall, Smithsonian staff scientist and project director.


'/>"/>

Contact: Beth King
kingb@si.edu
202-633-4700 x28216
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Palms reveal the significance of climate change for tropical biodiversity
2. The absence of elephants and rhinoceroses reduces biodiversity in tropical forests
3. Native plant restoration not enough to maintain tropical dry forests in Hawaii
4. Rodent robbers good for tropical trees
5. Have thieving rodents saved tropical trees?
6. Thieving rodents: Did they save tropical trees?
7. Tropical plankton invade Arctic waters
8. Tropical arks reach tipping point
9. Prestigious Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene journals join Oxford University Press
10. Testosterone regulates solo song of tropical birds
11. Researchers investigate impacts of climate change on rare tropical plants
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Tropical forests mitigate extreme weather events
(Date:1/31/2017)... Mass. , Jan. 31, 2017  Spero ... novel therapies for the treatment of bacterial infections, ... set of antibacterial candidates from Pro Bono Bio ... increased prevalence of multi-drug resistant forms of Gram-negative ... Cantab Anti Infectives Ltd, a PBB group company. ...
(Date:1/26/2017)... 26, 2017  Acuity Market Intelligence today released ... Digital Identity".  Acuity characterizes 2017 as a "breakout" ... adoption reflects a new understanding of the potential ... and digital identity are often perceived as threats ... , Principal of Acuity Market intelligence. "However, taken ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... 24, 2017  It sounds simple and harmless—an ... monitors vital signs and alerts parents on their ... saturation level drops. But pediatric experts argue that ... with no evidence of medical benefits, especially to ... aggressively to parents of healthy babies, promising peace ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/25/2017)... ... February 25, 2017 , ... The ... in an ongoing effort to create meaningful change by increasing communication, partnerships and ... emphasis on consumers and patients’ mental health well-being. , Both organizations are dedicated ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... DIEGO , Feb. 24, 2017  Aethlon Medical, ... following note authored by its Chairman and CEO, ... at the Munich Security Conference last Saturday, Bill ... virus could kill more people than nuclear weapons. Mr. ... U.S. and U.K. intelligence agencies, that scientific terrorists have ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... China Biologic Products, Inc. (NASDAQ: CBPO) ("China Biologic" ... in China, today announced its financial results for the fourth ... Quarter 2016 Financial Highlights Total sales ... RMB terms, or increased by 13.6% in USD terms to ... 2015. Gross profit increased by 13.3% to ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... BellBrook ... portfolio to include an array of biochemical analyses critical for Lead Discovery. ... their hit-to-lead and SAR programs, including inhibitor potency and selectivity, mechanism of action, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: