Navigation Links
USDA scientists study effects of rising carbon dioxide on rangelands
Date:8/3/2011

This press release is available in Spanish.

Rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can reverse the drying effects of predicted higher temperatures on semi-arid rangelands, according to a study published today in the scientific journal Nature by a team of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and university scientists.

Warmer temperatures increase water loss to the atmosphere, leading to drier soils. In contrast, higher CO2 levels cause leaf stomatal pores to partly close, lessening the amount of water vapor that escapes and the amount of water plants draw from soil. This new study finds that CO2 does more to counterbalance warming-induced water loss than previously expected. In fact, simulations of levels of warming and CO2 predicted for later this century demonstrated no net change in soil water, and actually increased levels of plant growth for warm-season grasses.

"By combining higher temperatures with elevated CO2 levels in an experiment on actual rangeland, these researchers are developing the scientific knowledge base to help prepare managers of the world's rangelands for what is likely to happen as climate changes in the future," said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

The results cover the first four years of the eight-year Prairie Heating and CO2 Enrichment (PHACE) experiment on native northern mixed grass rangeland. The study is being conducted by the ARS Rangeland Resources Research Unit (RRRU) at the High Plains Grasslands Research Station near Cheyenne, Wyo.

ARS plant physiologist Jack Morgan leads the study, which uses both CO2 pipelines and thermal infrared heaters to simulate global warming conditions predicted for the end of the century: 600 parts per million (ppm) of CO2compared to today's average 390 ppmand day/night temperatures raised by 3 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.

Based on these findings, warmer temperatures would likely play a role in changing the relative success of various grass types. "Only the warm-season grasses had their growth boosted higher by CO2 and warmer temperatures," Morgan said. "If this leads to a competitive advantage for warm-season grasses, it may increase the challenges faced by ranchers who desire cool-season grasses for early-season forage."

Elise Pendall and David Williams at the University of Wyoming at Laramie and Matthew Wallenstein at Colorado State University at Fort Collins also are participating in the study, which will be completed in 2013. Retired ARS soil scientist Bruce Kimball, designer of the infrared heater system, is helping conduct the study. Kimball serves as a research collaborator at the ARS U.S. Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa, Ariz.

Grass-dominated, dry rangelands account for approximately a third of the Earth's land surface, providing most of the forage eaten by livestock. This research, the first of its kind on this scale for rangelands, supports the USDA priority of helping farmers and ranchers throughout the United States and the rest of the world best adapt production practices to variable climate patterns.

Morgan said more research is needed to determine how the water-savings effect applies over the long run and in other types of semi-arid rangelands as well as to croplands in semi-arid areas. "It is important to understand that CO2 only offset the direct effects of warming on soil water in this experiment, and that it is unlikely to offset more severe drought due to combined warming and reduced precipitation projected for many regions of the world," he said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Don Comis
Donald.Comis@ars.usda.gov
301-504-1625
United States Department of Agriculture - Research, Education and Economics
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Jefferson scientists deliver toxic genes to effectively kill pancreatic cancer cells
2. Scientists identify novel inhibitor of human microRNA
3. Argonne scientists peer into heart of compound that may detect chemical, biological weapons
4. MU scientists go green with gold, distribute environmentally friendly nanoparticles
5. Scientists identify gene that may contribute to improved rice yield
6. Scientists discover why a mothers high-fat diet contributes to obesity in her children
7. MU scientists see how HIV matures into an infection
8. Earth scientists keep an eye on Texas
9. Thinking it through: Scientists call for policy to guide biofuels industry toward sustainability
10. Scientists identify a molecule that coordinates the movement of cells
11. Scientists Find new migratory patterns for Mediterranean and Western Atlantic bluefin tuna
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/11/2017)... , Jan. 11, 2017  Michael Johnson, co-founder of Visikol ... Capital Group, Inc., has been named to the elite "Forbes 30 ...  was one of 600 people in 20 fields nationwide to be ... of the 15,000 applicants were selected. ... He is currently a PhD candidate at Rutgers ...
(Date:1/4/2017)... Jan. 4, 2017  CES 2017 – Valencell ... technology, today announced the launch of two new ... the highly-accurate biometric sensor modules that incorporate the ... experience and expertise. The two new designs include ... for hearables, and Benchmark BW2.0, a 2-LED version ...
(Date:12/20/2016)... Dec, 20, 2016   Valencell , the ... and STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), a global semiconductor ... applications, announced today the launch of a new, ... wearables that includes ST,s compact SensorTile ... biometric sensor system. Together, SensorTile and Benchmark ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/20/2017)... ... ... The two newest companies to join the University City Science Center’s Port business ... Wistar Institute, and Sanguis, launched by a trio of students from the University of ... developing a treatment for a chronic viral infection and its associated diseases, with the ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... Ginkgo Bioworks, the organism company, announced ... the synthesis and assembly of DNA. The acquisition ... synthetic DNA into Ginkgo,s automated organism engineering foundries, ... of new organism designs for application across a ... founded to significantly increase the world,s capacity to ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... January 20, ... ... in Less Exposure Surgery (LES®) Technologies, announced today the next evolution in ... Pedicle Screw System platform). In contrast to the competition, SpineFrontier is focused ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... India , Jan. 19, 2017  Market Research Future has ... Global Market for Liquid Biopsy is growing rapidly and expected to ... Market Highlights ... The Global Liquid Biopsy Market has been assessed as a ... growth figures and boom in the coming future. There has been ...
Breaking Biology Technology: