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Posted Fri May 20 2011: from NSF:
Big Clue to Future Climate Change in Small Plants
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities conducted an 11-year experiment with 13 plant species common in U.S. Midwestern states. The scientists added extra carbon dioxide (CO2) to the plants' environment to discover how--in the higher carbon dioxide world of global warming--the plants would respond. The results suggest that plants' capacity to absorb extra carbon from the atmosphere as CO2 levels rise may be less than expected.... "They have major implications for models of future climate," says Peter Reich, a forest ecologist at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the paper. "Current state-of-the-art climate models assume that vegetation will soak up much of the extra CO2 we put into the air from fossil fuel burning." But the new results, says biologist Tali Lee of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and first author of the paper, "show that the capacity of some terrestrial ecosystems to absorb the extra CO2 may be less than the models assume." That means that today's carbon cycle models likely underpredict the pace of increase of future CO2 levels, and therefore the pace of climate change, say Lee, Reich and Susan Barrott of the University of Minnesota, also a co-author of the paper. "What this all boils down to," says Reich, "is that the world could warm even faster than we thought."
[Read more stories about: holyshit, death spiral, carbon sinks, global warming]

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