Can we estimate the annual contribution of forests to mitigate the greenhouse effect?
An unprecedented international study, just published in "Nature Plants" magazine, of the renowned group "Nature", assessed the mechanism for the formation and growth of tree rings and their carbon acquisition dynamics, contributing to better understand the global cycle carbon and the phenomenon of climate change.
This study brought together 33 researchers from 12 countries (Austria, Canada, China, Slovenia, Spain, Finland, France, Portugal, Czech Republic, Russia and Switzerland). The Portuguese team is made up of three researchers from the Centre for Functional Ecology (CEF), University of Coimbra (UC).
Whereas the formation and development of tree rings interfere in the procurement process and accumulation of carbon, the researchers studied over three years, the mechanism which forms the rings in forests with different climates.
Besides contributing to the "understanding of the global carbon cycle ', which has undergone profound changes over time, this study could' enable researchers to estimate the amount of carbon sequestered annually by forests, ie assess the contribution of trees in controlling carbon dioxide (CO2). Forests are major long-term CO2 tanks but the dynamics of this process is still poorly understood," notes Cristina Nabais, coordinator of the Portuguese team.
Tree rings "provide important climate signals and therefore, if we understand the mechanics involved in their formation and growth, as well as the impacts that mechanics has in carbon accumulation, we have clues to predict future responses of forests in the complex problem of climate change," says Philip Campelo, another of the Portuguese researchers involved in the research.
The study showed that the formation of the rings is highly sensitive to daylength (hours of exposure to light), the carbon accumulation process in the rings being most sensitive to temperature, and also that the carbon building dynamics is very different among forests Mediterranean and temperate forests of northern Europe, an important piece of data to understand the relative contribution of these forests to the carbon cycle.
University of Coimbra
Translated by Natália Santos
From the Portuguese version