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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 2, 2010

TREES TRYING TO HELP WITH CLIMATE CHANGE

NY Times - Forests in the eastern United States appear to be growing faster in response to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a new study has found.

The study centered on trees in mixed hardwood stands on the western edge of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland that are representative of much of the those on the Eastern Seaboard.

All are growing two to four times as fast as normal, according to a study published in Tuesday's issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

After controlling for other variables, scientists concluded that the change resulted largely from the increase in carbon dioxide, a major factor in climate change.

Trees are now known to play a vital role in countering global warming because they absorb and store carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping gas.

Geoffrey G. Parker, a co-author of the paper and an ecologist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md., said his research indicated that the local forests were adapting to the rise in carbon dioxide by absorbing more.

"My guess is that they are already sopping up some of the extra carbon," he said.

But Dr. Parker said it was unclear whether the trend could be sustained. "We don't think this can persist for too long because other limiting factors will come into play, like water availability and soil nutrients," he said.


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