California’s giant redwoods inconveniently respond to increased carbon dioxide

In all of California, there is no greater shrine to nature than the giant redwoods of the Northern California. WUWT readers may remember this article which talks about the threat to giant redwoods, due to a supposed global warming induced lack of coastal fog, which these trees need as part of their life cycle:

One more thing to worry about – fog shortage

From the University of California – Berkeley via Eurekalert:

Fog has declined in past century along California’s redwood coast

Analysis of hourly airport cloud cover reports leads to surprising finding

California’s coastal fog has decreased significantly over the past 100 years, potentially endangering coast redwood trees dependent on cool, humid summers, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, scientists.

Of course, like some “climate denial” video our friend Peter Sinclair might edit, the fog research conclusion was soon shown to be a “crock” in itself:

Last summer the San Francisco Chronicle carried a story about research on fog and climate with a different conclusion:

The Bay Area just had its foggiest May in 50 years. And thanks to global warming, it’s about to get even foggier. That’s the conclusion of several state researchers, whose soon-to-be-published study predicts that even with average temperatures on the rise, the mercury won’t be soaring everywhere.

Well, now the same scientist that published the fog decline story has spawned another story in the San Francisco Chronicle that flies in the face of his earlier study.

Click image for the news story

Here are some excerpts from the story:

The $2.5 million Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative has allowed Sillett and other specialists from Humboldt State and UC Berkeley to set up shop in some of California’s last remaining old-growth redwood groves. The researchers are climbing, poking, prodding, measuring and testing everything, including molecules of coast redwood and giant sequoia trees on 16 research plots throughout the ancient trees’ geographic range.

The plan is to chart the health of the trees over time and use laboratory analysis of carbon and oxygen isotopes to figure out how the trees have reacted in the past to climate and weather conditions.

“Embedded in this tree ring is a remarkable record of climate,” said Todd Dawson, the director of the Center for Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry at UC Berkeley, as he held up a core sample from a Montgomery Woods redwood. “Based on what has happened in the past, we can really project what will happen in the future.”

This was interesting:

Laboratory testing of tree-ring data is now so advanced that scientists can determine things like whether tree growth in a certain year was the result of fog or precipitation. Scientists intend to plot biological changes in redwood tree rings dating back 1,000 to 2,000 years, with particular emphasis on effects that might have been caused by the industrial revolution.

I assume then, that they have fog and and precipitation measurement records spanning 1000-2000 years that allow them to verify this?

Here’s where the older fog research and the newer tree ring studies collide with our current climate, bold emphasis mine:

Redwood studies thus far have come up with some confounding results. Redwood trees are known to thrive on summer fog, and it was believed that they grew more slowly as they aged, but studies by Sillett and others show redwood growth increasing, in some cases doubling, over the past century. That’s despite a 33 percent decrease in the amount of fog along the Northern California coast since the early 20th century, according to a study by Dawson.

Anthony Ambrose, a postdoctoral research fellow at the UC Berkeley department of integrative biology, said the growth spurt could be the result of more sunlight and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which generally increases plant growth.

“Maybe it is because there is a CO{-2} increase while there is still enough moisture,” Ambrose said.

This incovenient finding doesn’t bode well for the people (Peter Sinclair, Joe Romm) pushing: The “CO2 is Plant Food” Crock.

But just in case you think this is just another argument among friends over a few tree rings,  I’ll remind readers of this story:

Surprise: Earths’ Biosphere is Booming, Satellite Data Suggests CO2 the Cause

The results surprised Steven Running of the University of Montana and Ramakrishna Nemani of NASA, scientists involved in analyzing the NASA satellite data. They found that over a period of almost two decades, the Earth as a whole became more bountiful by a whopping 6.2%. About 25% of the Earth’s vegetated landmass — almost 110 million square kilometres — enjoyed significant increases and only 7% showed significant declines. When the satellite data zooms in, it finds that each square metre of land, on average, now produces almost 500 grams of greenery per year.

Yeah, damned inconvenient these findings.

Now that California voters have reaffirmed their commitment to CARB’s favorite AB32 law reducing CO2 emissions, I’m waiting for the inevitable lawsuit from the Sierra Club which will argue that reducing CO2 will hurt the giant redwoods. It is after all, what the Sierra Club does.

h/t to Steve Mosher

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79 thoughts on “California’s giant redwoods inconveniently respond to increased carbon dioxide

  1. Louise is checking with her Community College Professor for guidance, but in the meantime, let me fill in for her.

    Anthony, how much is the Chronicle paying you for this shameless shilling of their newspaper?

    REPLY: Heh, you must be laboring under the misconception that newspapers are flush with money these days – Anthony

  2. Redwoods, as a long-lived species, is certainly worth studying. The problem is that researchers are coming at them with an agenda. The likelihood of confirmation bias is high. Let’s see a comprehensive analysis of the whole ecosystem’s biological, geological, and chemical spheres before proclaiming any conclusions about causes.

  3. “even with average temperatures on the rise, the mercury won’t be soaring everywhere.”

    At an intersection on the Eyre Hwy in Sth Australia there is a sign to “Somewhere Else”, is that where the warming is?

  4. In that vein, Anthony, how much are the Redwood Trees paying you for this shameless shilling of their forest!?!?

  5. I’m waiting for the “giant redwoods are outgrowing their strength as a result of too much CO2, scientists believe.” stories to surface.

  6. I took this as possibly advocating for old growth trees being better at carbon sequestration than young growth. Therefore old growth must not be cut because then cutting old growth contributed to AGW. So, besides AGW advocates conflating logging with deforestation they would say that old growth is critical to preventing climate change and a crime against humanity.

    I’m sure that’s just me seeing this as a forester.

  7. With all the tourism to the trees, you’d certainly expect there to be a local increase in CO2. I’m waiting for some true believer to ask for signs requiring people to hold their breath while in the redwoods, but I won’t hold my breath ;o)

  8. Do you think that these so-called climate scientists will ever realize that continually contradicting themselves does nothing to enhance their credibility ?

  9. “more sunlight and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which generally increases plant growth.”

    Quick, someone alert the world’s farmers.

  10. This is one of the greatest ‘doh’ stories of all time. I must admit i was a bit alarmed with the initial fog story. Since Los Angeles was experiencing fog this summer that exceeded 10 miles inland I was confused as to why Northern California had so little. And i was also alarmed that for the life of me I could not understand why more sunshine and CO2, and a relatively wet period resulted in redwood die-off. So now we know. It was all BS.
    On a related note, during the Great Depression, redwoods were planted as an experiment in a reforestation effort on the Island of Kauai . They were one of a dozen or so ‘desirable’ species planted in groves to test compatibility and self-propagation. Some of these turned out less that desirable. Slash Pine and some Eucalyptus turned out to be really scary fire hazards. The redwoods were planted at about the 3,500 elevation. They grew. Fast. At a pace some estimate may be 5 times faster than in Ca. They reproduce slowly, so are not a significant threat to native flora. They are beautiful trees, but still babies by Ca. standards. And growth has slowed down dramatically as they aged. They have weathered numerous hurricanes well and a are very positive feature of Kokee State Park.

  11. It is interesting how Sinclair’s movie mocks Lord Monckton -“CO2 is what? It is plant food!” But fortunately for all of us, Lord Monckton is exactly right and nothing in the movie indicates otherwise. Also even though the movie is generally reasonable and does state many facts, Sinclair and many scientists mistake weather for climate. The last 30 years is only the warm half of a 60 year climate cycle and the movie continues to state that “these warming trends are EXPECTED to continue”. Much of warming science today follows this same thread – “warming of 3 or 4 degrees C will cause ____ (fill in the blank)” for some extreme and negative outcome. The first problem is that even if warming does continue it cannot be shown that based on past patterns that more than about another degree of warming will probably occur by 2100. And secondly, very few studies have focused on the positive aspects of slight warming. And finally most of the latest studies show no long term extreme weather effects over the past 100 years. There have certainly been extreme weather events but they are part of a natural climate pattern that more and more shows a 60 year cycle (and apparently is now beginning to proceed into a cooling part of that cycle) .

    All good propaganda movies seem quite reasonable until you dig a little deeper into the material.

  12. Well, it’s better than we thought, and it’s worse than we thought. All at the same time.

    Finally, fair and balanced climate reporting. More, More. Bring it on!

  13. “more sunlight and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which generally increases plant growth.”

    generally ? When do those two factors not increase plant growth?

  14. The true believes in Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming will quickly spin this by claiming this “rapid and unnatural growth, induced by the known greenhouse gas CO2, will enervate the trees and they will all die.”

    Actual data collected in the field will not sway a true believer; facts and data simply increase the rate of angular rotation.

  15. “Redwood studies thus far have come up with some confounding results. Redwood trees are known to thrive on summer fog, and it was believed that they grew more slowly as they aged, but studies by Sillett and others show redwood growth increasing, in some cases doubling, over the past century. That’s despite a 33 percent decrease in the amount of fog along the Northern California coast since the early 20th century, according to a study by Dawson.”

    Confounding? To a botanist?

    Who ARE these people? Higher CO2 concentration causes more efficient use of water. I’ve explained it many times here. Gas exchange is carried out through microscopic pores called stomata. Stomata iris open and closed as required and the mechanism that controls the opening is referred to as the closest thing to a muscle that plants have. When there is a higher concentration of CO2 in the air the gas exchange happens faster and the stomata don’t need to open as far or as often. Water is lost when the stomata is open.

    Thus it makes perfect sense that Redwoods would prosper in higher CO2 even if there less moisture available.

  16. I have a genuine question, as an interested civilian: if increased CO2 levels contribute to increased plant growth, then the treerings generated are also larger. So how come those famous tree-ring proxies are called an indicator of temperature?

  17. Wijnand says:

    “I have a genuine question, as an interested civilian: if increased CO2 levels contribute to increased plant growth, then the treerings generated are also larger. So how come those famous tree-ring proxies are called an indicator of temperature?”

    Good question.

  18. It’s not just redwoods. Here in the Deep South, where many farmers (me included ) have acres planted in pine, cedar, maple, hickory, oak, and other hard and soft woods , those are growing faster also. This is not necessarily a good thing, since fast growth woods are generally less desirable than slow growing and hence denser wood. Denser wood is stronger, more stable, higher quality, and therefore more desirable ( and pricier ) for construction, furniture, musical instruments, etc. than fast growth. Fast growth wood is generally not good for much other than pulp, fiber board, and other cheap products – or converting to ethanol, which is another disaster story.

  19. Sam Hall says:
    November 27, 2010 at 10:47 am

    “more sunlight and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which generally increases plant growth.”

    generally ? When do those two factors not increase plant growth?

    Where there other limiting factors like insufficient nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus to name the major nutrients. Also micronutrients like sulphur, magnesium, calcium, copper, zinc, molybdenum, and iron can be limiting factors although these are usually only a problem in seawater. Just off the top of my head. On land it’s usually the big three (NPK – the primary listed ingredients on virtually all fertilizers) where deficiency is common along with insufficient (or too much!) water. pH can also be a limiting factor.

  20. I got one in my garden :) Brought it home from there like 25 years ago, moved it twice in the early years. There’s no fog where I live, but it grows like a champ. It’s my little baby, I take pics every year. The neighbors already start bickering because it obstructs their view.

  21. Conifers have stomata? Guess so. Something I should have known.

    A quick check found http://www.savetheredwoods.org/research/grant_detail.php?id=35 which sound uncomfortably close to whale saving, but it links to a master thesis at http://www.savetheredwoods.org/media/pdf_jennings.pdf . On think in the thesis I hadn’t realized is that redwood leaves change greatly between low level and high level leaves. On the east coast, red oaks are one of my favorite examples, and is largely driven by sunlight and probably transpiration. In redwoods, tree height and water management have a big roll, and that appears to affect leaf morphology.

    My guess is that redwoods can adapt across a few seasons a lot better than any of the hand wringers expect.

    Neat trees. I’d hate to have one fall on my house, though.

  22. “The $2.5 million Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative has allowed Sillett and other specialists from Humboldt State and UC Berkeley to set up shop in some of California’s last remaining old-growth redwood groves. ”

    There is no way this research could be agenda driven, could it?

    BTW, I really like the “… California’s last remaining old-growth redwood groves. ” part. The spin left me more dizzy then a ride at a county fair.

  23. Ken Roberts says:
    November 27, 2010 at 11:50 am
    “How do you get a tree ring without murdering the tree?”

    Duct tape.

  24. @Ken Roberts,
    “How do you get a tree ring without murdering the tree?”

    A coring drill known as an “increment borer” is used. The result–a cylindrical piece of the tree with its rings–should be familiar since it’s similar to the cores obtained from glaciers and ice sheets. If you hit the pith (year one of that ring) you can tell how old the tree is at that height (the closer to the ground, the closer to seedling stage).

    Here’s a picture of the increment borer and the tree ring core: http://forestry.about.com/od/dendrochronology/ss/tree_age_4.htm

    For more, see about.com:

    http://forestry.about.com/od/dendrochronology/ss/tree_age.htm

  25. “How do you get a tree ring without murdering the tree?”

    They use something like a thin reaming tool that extracts a sideways core .
    How the tree feels about that I couldn’t tell you.

  26. I agree with captainfish!

    Anthony needs to get of the redwood cool-aid money and stop supporting the ‘large tree’ agenda. How much is your soul worth, mr Watts? Stop shilling out to big forest!

  27. Note that the longest increment corer made is 30 inches. Theoretically that could reach the pith (center) of a 60-inch-diameter tree. But the older redwoods are as much as 12 feet (144 inches) in diameter or larger, so an increment corer can’t get close to the pith. Furthermore, the extracted core is a single radial line, more or less, and doesn’t capture the variation in ring widths if the tree is not perfectly round with the pith in the exact center (and they never are).

    The best method is to cut the tree down with a chain saw, slice off a “cookie”, and analyze that. Of course, that’s just a single sample. For multiple samples it’s best to cut down multiple trees.

    Which isn’t going to happen. Hence the sampling will be sparse at best.

    And there is absolutely no reason to believe that “climate change” affects redwood diameter growth. Stand density is much more of a factor and masks any climate effect. Recall that the Yamal proxy larches grow at the limit of where trees can grow, and hence are considered “sensitive” to climate perturbations. That is manifestly NOT true of redwoods.

  28. David A. Evans says:
    November 27, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    No mate. On the road from Beamish to Stanley there’s a sign to ‘No Place’, (54.874018,-1.66484), also see…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Place

    Not far from me is the town of Weare, New Hampshire. I’ve always thought there should be a clothing store in the northern part of town. They could advertise “He’s a real No. Weare man….”

  29. I believe that with the cooling PDO the fog is starting to increase again. The researchers only looked at airport data for the last 50 years. The Pacific got warmer most of that time.

  30. @Ken Roberts

    ‘How do you get a tree ring without murdering the tree?’

    Quiet as a mouse that could sing you steal in during dead night, shrouded in fog, you rob ‘em all blind. Come morning, when the warm laser rays from the sun all but burns the puny little water droplets to cinders and gas the dead wood of the redwood still wont see a thing.

  31. pat says:
    November 27, 2010 at 10:36 am
    Eucalyptus! As a veteran firefighter of the Aerial kind, I get cold willies whenever I
    think of that blasted Australian gasoline plant. The Oakland fire cones to mind. I had one in my front yard when the big freeze of ’88-89 hit I was so glad to take my Sthil to that
    thing (at least when it was dead my wife wouldn’t have second thoughts.)

  32. Mike D. says:
    November 27, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Note that the longest increment corer made is 30 inches. Theoretically that could reach the pith (center) of a 60-inch-diameter tree. But the older redwoods are as much as 12 feet (144 inches) in diameter or larger, so an increment corer can’t get close to the pith.

    There are larger corers, but they take a wider core, but it means they reliably reach the pith. For example, see http://www.usatourist.com/english/maillist/archive/0707.html#1

  33. Dave Springer says:
    November 27, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Sam Hall says:
    November 27, 2010 at 10:47 am

    “more sunlight and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which generally increases plant growth.”

    generally ? When do those two factors not increase plant growth?

    Where there other limiting factors like insufficient nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus to name the major nutrients. (snip)

    OK, If the tree growth is being limited by, say, insufficient nitrogen, then the amount of sunlight and CO2 make no difference?

  34. Ric Werme says:
    November 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    No Weare man, very funny :-D

    The thing about No Place is you won’t find it named on any map I know of. Nor will you find it under its more official name of Co-operative Villas, so I guess it really is “No Place”

    One thing as an aside. Apart from the “Sur”real Climate April 1st post a couple of years back, I’ve never seen the same level of humour on a consensus site.

    DaveE.

  35. The forests are in better shape on both coasts and the upper Midwest than they were at the turn of the century when they were almost completely razed for lumber. There are more trees growing on the plains than there ever were in the Holocene. Same goes for the desert Southwest.

    The coastal mountains of Northern California were nearly completely stripped of trees following the 1906 San Francisco quake to provide lumber for rebuilding the city. Those forests have now recovered.

    I would venture a guess that there are currently more trees in the US than there were when Europeans first arrived. How many trees do you think there were where Grand Island, Nebraska is now when settlers first came? Zoom into the town and notice how many trees there are per block.

  36. The results surprised Steven Running of the University of Montana and Ramakrishna Nemani of NASA, scientists involved in analyzing the NASA satellite data. They found that over a period of almost two decades, the Earth as a whole became more bountiful by a whopping 6.2%. About 25% of the Earth’s vegetated landmass — almost 110 million square kilometres — enjoyed significant increases and only 7% showed significant declines. When the satellite data zooms in, it finds that each square metre of land, on average, now produces almost 500 grams of greenery per year.

    It is hardly surprising that increased atmospheric CO2 boosts photosynthesis and plant production. If it is confirmed that CO2 increase is indeed causing a “greening of the planet” then it points to a probably negative climate feedback of CO2. More CO2 = more plant photosyntheses = more plant transpiration = more recycling of ground water to the atmosphere = accelerated hydrological cycle, more clouds, climatic cooling.

    In general the climatic effect of CO2 may well turn out to be about biology, not physics. The biosphere, especially vegetation, has a profound influence on climate (Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis is largely valid). Changes in trace levels of CO2 will likely exert a larger effect on climate via their effects on vegetation, than via physical radiation balance effects. And feedback from CO2 to atmospheric water vapour will be positive for this reason – and the temperature feedback thus negative; the biology trumps the physics.

    So climate is as much biology as physics (I would say that – as a biologist!)

    BTW some nay-sayers to CO2 affecting photosynthesis point to lab experiments showing failure of plants to exploit increasing CO2 – although oddly this hasn’t stopped farmers increasing CO2 in greenhouses. However this argument fails to understand biology; a plant might be proximally adapted to a CO2 level experienced in the “recent” past – i.e. a few 10^4-5 years. However in a real ecosystem genetic variation and natural selection mean that, with in creasing CO2 levels, plants will pretty quickly adapt to exploit then – at the level of species and ecosystem if not the individual. Have a look at stomatal densities on leaves – will these change over a decadal – century timescale?

  37. “BTW some nay-sayers to CO2 affecting photosynthesis point to lab experiments showing failure of plants to exploit increasing CO2″

    It greatly depends on the sort of plant. Conifers, for example, seem to do very well with increased CO2 while hardwoods don’t show as much difference.

    If my gut is correct, we should begin to see the increase in atmospheric CO2 begin to flatten out. As the biosphere responds to the increased CO2 production of the past few decades, it should begin taking more CO2 out through invigorated growth. So you should see an increase in the removal of CO2. So the more CO2 increases, the harder it should become to further increase it.

    Another thing I suspect we should see is conifer encroaching on what had been hardwood stands. I believe I might already be seeing evidence of this in Northern California where I now see a carpet of baby Douglass fir trees in stands of madrone. A Duke University study noted a 10x increase in viable seed production from white pine exposed to 2x the normal atmospheric ambient CO2. That is a huge explosion of seed production and could reverse canopy progression in some areas with this explosion of pine seedlings keeping hardwoods out of certain areas.

    I would also be interested in the state of certain Araucaria forests in Patagonia and how they might have changed over the past 20 years. I suspect the Araucaria species are especially likely to benefit from increased CO2 as that genus evolved when CO2 levels were much higher than today. Same with ginkos.

  38. Ken Roberts says:
    November 27, 2010 at 11:50 am
    How do you get a tree ring without murdering the tree?

    Ummm, okay, I know: Mind melding. Right?

    :o)

  39. Jimash says:
    November 27, 2010 at 1:23 pm
    “How do you get a tree ring without murdering the tree?”

    They use something like a thin reaming tool that extracts a sideways core .
    How the tree feels about that I couldn’t tell you.

    Oh, you mean something like they use on guys with prostate problems?

    You know: They shove as round wire brush up his urethra and spin that hummer until he either hits high ‘C’ with his screaming, or he passes out from the pain?

    Got it!

  40. Future news article,

    Scientist have find connection between AGW and the rising CO2 level from the our use of fossil fuels contributing to obesity in California’s giant redwoods. The coalition for redwoods, arborists and psychologists(CRAP) have demanded funding be set aside by the governments to address the effects of low tree esteem and over eating brought on by AGW.
    A chief spokesman of CRAP has said “Not addressing these issues now can only lead to higher incidences of Logibetes, timberitist and in some extreme cases lumbercide amongst these depressed trees”.

  41. Redwoods are impressive – I say that after spending 6 months of 2000 in the Santa Cruz UCSC campus.

    There are many weak links in all these explanations and interpretations. The fog decrease may or may not be related to the “warming” which may or may not be partly (but measurably) related to CO2, and the fog may or may not be important for the growth of the trees, while there are lots of other obvious quantities – such as the CO2 concentration, but also other things – that could be more important.

    Clearly, the people who study these things are people “in search of a problem”. It seems totally self-evident that there’s no problem with the redwoods, so why would one search for the causes of these problems? Clearly, the conclusions – and any conclusions – about the “culprits” will be bogus because if there’s no problem, there can’t be any culprits.

  42. I thought that warming would increase fog due to temperature difference over night. Advection, and radiation fogs would be more prolific. Summer mornings in the UK get some good radiation fogs and winters some good advection fogs. Still, what do I know. But trees responding to increased CO2? Who would have thought that?

  43. crosspatch says:

    “The forests are in better shape on both coasts and the upper Midwest than they were at the turn of the century when they were almost completely razed for lumber.”

    Crosspatch is right as usual. New England’s trees were almost completely eliminated by settlers clearing the land for crops. But as the prairies opened to agriculture, and along with the Arbor Day movement, New England began regaining its tree cover. Americans love to plant trees.

    Today there are more trees than there were in 1492, and the U.S. is a net carbon sink. The rest of the world should pay the U.S. carbon credits – if the whole “carbon” scam was based on honesty. [Sorry, I’m being silly. Americans are being told that they are evil, and must pay reparations to the rest of the world through the UN – which, as always, will take its hefty cut of the loot.]

  44. Smokey says:
    November 28, 2010 at 5:12 am

    Funny [boys and girls] that you are Crosspatch and Smokey.

    Why nett and not gross?
    Are we talking nature here or economics? Or political sciences?

  45. the mercury won’t be soaring everywhere.
    It certainly didn’t soar in California this year, from LA to Eureks, and summer for the State in general was down 5 to 10 degrees with ‘winter type’ lows moving through… which was late to the dance and left early.
    We just broke the record for Nov. 27th snowfall here, set in 1970.

  46. grayman says:
    November 27, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I wish they would make up their minds

    You have yet to fully understand AGW scare tactics. Predict and forecast EVERYTHING in order to avoid AGW being falsified. This is the game they are playing. Remember less cold and snow in the northern latitudes followed by more cold and snow in the northern latitudes when it became clear that snowfalls were wer no longer just a thing of the past. :o)

  47. crosspatch says:
    November 27, 2010 at 9:25 pm
    “BTW some nay-sayers to CO2 affecting photosynthesis point to lab experiments showing failure of plants to exploit increasing CO2″

    It greatly depends on the sort of plant. Conifers, for example, seem to do very well with increased CO2 while hardwoods don’t show as much difference.

    That makes sense – according to this paper (Beerling and Berner 2005) broad leaved trees evolved to maximise efficiency of utilization of falling CO2 levels:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/102/5/1302.full

    So they adapted to recent lower CO2 and thus gained at the expense of the conifers – so now with increasing CO2 the reverse is starting to happen.

  48. It does trees good to get pithed once in a while! Then stagger home, singing loudly — “Wooden it be wonderful”.

  49. Smokey;
    When it’s finally admitted that CO2 is beneficial, the US will be asked to pay reparations for its forests’ theft of Atmospheric Resources.

  50. The redwoods have thrived for thousands of years, without regard to the climate (weather), until the advent of decks and deck furniture. Any growth problems they have are caused by man directly. Claims that man directly influences the climate are, in my opinion, a waste of good air.

  51. Once again, certainty turns into uncertainty.

    Dire prediction of catastrophe based on assumed knowledge of how things work, when in fact, the knowledge just isn’t there.

  52. Luboš Motl says:
    November 28, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Clearly, the people who study these things are people “in search of a problem”.

    They also have to justify peppering Giant Redwoods with innumerable holes.
    Someone should ask them if they have any intentions of putting the cores back from where they got them.
    Insects & mold could be making homes in those stately trees, leading to thier eventual demise, not to mention the weakening of the heartwood at the base.
    Save the Trees from the Warmist Borers.

  53. Scientists (other than climate scientists) are actually doing work to see how plants respond to increased CO2 – something that was difficult in a lab.

    For example, this study – Long-Term Growth of Ginkgo with CO2 Enrichment Increases Leaf Ice Nucleation Temperatures and Limits Recovery of the Photosynthetic System from Freezing – (http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/content/full/124/1/183) actually studied how increased CO2 made some trees more resistant to freezing temps.

    “Abstract: The importance of subzero temperature interactions with elevated CO2 on plant carbon metabolism has received rather little attention, despite their likely role in influencing future vegetation productivity and dynamics. Here we focused on the critical issues of CO2-enrichment effects on leaf-freezing temperatures, subsequent membrane damage, and recovery of the photosynthetic system. We show that growth in elevated CO2 (70 Pa) results in a substantial and significant (P < 0.01) increase (up to 4°C) in the ice nucleation temperature of leaves of Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba), which was observed consistently throughout the 1999 growing season relative to their ambient CO2 (35 Pa) counterparts. We suggest that increased sensitivity of leaves to ice damage after growth in elevated CO2 provides an explanation for increased photoinhibition observed in the field early and late in the growing season when low nighttime temperatures are experienced. This new mechanism is proposed in addition to the earlier postulated explanation for this phenomenon involving a reduction in the rate of triose-P utilization owing to a decrease in the rate of carbohydrate export from the leaf…”

    Imagine the advancements if citrus growers were able to see increased resistance to freezing in their trees with increased CO2. Would they see this as a harm or as a good?

  54. Since there are very few redwoods left in the world, it is of little consequence whether increased CO2 is increasing or decreasing their growth. They are a particular species which has evolved to fill a particular niche.

    The post did refer to some satellite data indicating that the plant productivity has been increasing due to increased CO2.
    ← Pielke Jr. on Trenberth’s Book Review
    Dr. Roy Spencer & Lord Christopher Monckton to Challenge Climate Orthodoxy at Cancun UN Conference →
    California’s giant redwoods inconveniently respond to increased carbon dioxide
    Posted on November 27, 2010 by Anthony Watts

    In all of California, there is no greater shrine to nature than the giant redwoods of the Northern California. WUWT readers may remember this article which talks about the threat to giant redwoods, due to a supposed global warming induced lack of coastal fog, which these trees need as part of their life cycle:

    One more thing to worry about – fog shortage

    From the University of California – Berkeley via Eurekalert:

    Fog has declined in past century along California’s redwood coast

    Analysis of hourly airport cloud cover reports leads to surprising finding

    California’s coastal fog has decreased significantly over the past 100 years, potentially endangering coast redwood trees dependent on cool, humid summers, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, scientists.

    Of course, like some “climate denial” video our friend Peter Sinclair might edit, the fog research conclusion was soon shown to be a “crock” in itself:

    Last summer the San Francisco Chronicle carried a story about research on fog and climate with a different conclusion:

    The Bay Area just had its foggiest May in 50 years. And thanks to global warming, it’s about to get even foggier. That’s the conclusion of several state researchers, whose soon-to-be-published study predicts that even with average temperatures on the rise, the mercury won’t be soaring everywhere.

    Well, now the same scientist that published the fog decline story has spawned another story in the San Francisco Chronicle that flies in the face of his earlier study.

    Click image for the news story

    Here are some excerpts from the story:

    The $2.5 million Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative has allowed Sillett and other specialists from Humboldt State and UC Berkeley to set up shop in some of California’s last remaining old-growth redwood groves. The researchers are climbing, poking, prodding, measuring and testing everything, including molecules of coast redwood and giant sequoia trees on 16 research plots throughout the ancient trees’ geographic range.

    The plan is to chart the health of the trees over time and use laboratory analysis of carbon and oxygen isotopes to figure out how the trees have reacted in the past to climate and weather conditions.

    “Embedded in this tree ring is a remarkable record of climate,” said Todd Dawson, the director of the Center for Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry at UC Berkeley, as he held up a core sample from a Montgomery Woods redwood. “Based on what has happened in the past, we can really project what will happen in the future.”

    This was interesting:

    Laboratory testing of tree-ring data is now so advanced that scientists can determine things like whether tree growth in a certain year was the result of fog or precipitation. Scientists intend to plot biological changes in redwood tree rings dating back 1,000 to 2,000 years, with particular emphasis on effects that might have been caused by the industrial revolution.

    I assume then, that they have fog and and precipitation measurement records spanning 1000-2000 years that allow them to verify this?

    Here’s where the older fog research and the newer tree ring studies collide with our current climate, bold emphasis mine:

    Redwood studies thus far have come up with some confounding results. Redwood trees are known to thrive on summer fog, and it was believed that they grew more slowly as they aged, but studies by Sillett and others show redwood growth increasing, in some cases doubling, over the past century. That’s despite a 33 percent decrease in the amount of fog along the Northern California coast since the early 20th century, according to a study by Dawson.

    Anthony Ambrose, a postdoctoral research fellow at the UC Berkeley department of integrative biology, said the growth spurt could be the result of more sunlight and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which generally increases plant growth.

    “Maybe it is because there is a CO{-2} increase while there is still enough moisture,” Ambrose said.

    This incovenient finding doesn’t bode well for the people (Peter Sinclair, Joe Romm) pushing: The “CO2 is Plant Food” Crock.

    But just in case you think this is just another argument among friends over a few tree rings, I’ll remind readers of this story:

    Surprise: Earths’ Biosphere is Booming, Satellite Data Suggests CO2 the Cause

    The results surprised Steven Running of the University of Montana and Ramakrishna Nemani of NASA, scientists involved in analyzing the NASA satellite data. They found that over a period of almost two decades, the Earth as a whole became more bountiful by a whopping 6.2%. About 25% of the Earth’s vegetated landmass — almost 110 million square kilometres — enjoyed significant increases and only 7% showed significant declines. When the satellite data zooms in, it finds that each square metre of land, on average, now produces almost 500 grams of greenery per year.

    Yeah, damned inconvenient these findings.

    Since then there has been more recent data which finds that in the past decade, drought has drastically decreased the plant productivity of the earth.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100820101504.htm

    Drought Drives Decade-Long Decline in Plant Growth

    ScienceDaily (Aug. 21, 2010) — Global plant productivity that once was on the rise with warming temperatures and a lengthened growing season is now on the decline because of regional drought, according to a new study of NASA satellite data.

    Plant productivity is a measure of the rate of the photosynthesis process that green plants use to convert solar energy, carbon dioxide and water to sugar, oxygen and eventually plant tissue. Compared with a 6 percent increase in plant productivity during the 1980s and 1990s, the decline observed over the last decade is only 1 percent. The shift, however, could impact food security, biofuels and the global carbon cycle.

    Researchers Maosheng Zhao and Steven Running of the University of Montana in Missoula discovered the global shift from an analysis of NASA satellite data. The discovery comes from an analysis of plant productivity data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite, combined with other growing season climate data, including temperature, solar radiation and water.
    ….
    “This is a pretty serious warning that warmer temperatures are not going to endlessly improve plant growth,” Running said.

    Zhao and Running’s analysis showed that since 2000, high-latitude Northern Hemisphere ecosystems have continued to benefit from warmer temperatures and a longer growing season. But that effect was offset by warming-associated drought that limited growth in the Southern Hemisphere, resulting in a net global loss of land productivity.

    “This past decade’s net decline in terrestrial productivity illustrates that a complex interplay between temperature, rainfall, cloudiness, and carbon dioxide, probably in combination with other factors such as nutrients and land management, will determine future patterns and trends in productivity,” said Diane Wickland, program manager of the Terrestrial Ecology research program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

    Certainly flooding and drought if it becomes more severe and frequent as a result of global warming will have a negative impact on plant growth and food production. It is foolish to believe otherwise. That was the point of “CO2 is Plant Food” crock video.

    REPLY:Mr. Adler, you really should get your own blog, because comments like this are so long that they really clutter the thread. By having your own blog, you can then endlessly cite alarming counter stories to your heart’s content, and then simply provide a link. – Anthony

  55. henrythethird;
    Much as I would rather you were right, you actually got that ginko/CO2/freezing story back asswards. That the damaging temperature rose means that the leaves were harmed at higher temperatures, showing reduced resistance to ice damage, under raised CO2 conditions.

    Sorry!!

  56. Another NatGeo quote from “Redwood Forests of the Pacific Coast” May 1899 p.151:

    “Nowhere is there any young growth. The youngest trees, which are found only in the northern portion of the belt, are several hundred years of age.
    When the timber has been cut there is no sign of reproduction from seed. In many localities sprouts are growing from stumps in the cut areas, but even this form of reproduction is limited. Indeed everything appears to indicate that for some reason, probably a progressive drying of the climate, the present environment is not favorable to the growth of redwood, and with the clearing away of the present forests the end of the species as a source of lumber will be at hand.”

    111 years ago it was recognized that the redwood was a living fossil of a formerly widespread tree.

  57. The global warming folks have produced study after study proving the negative effects of global warming. Its inconvenient that now one study after another have come under a storm of much-earned criticism over shoddy, and even purposeful negligence to science. Today, if you attempt to produce just about any type study that demonstrates how global warming is harming the planet, its merit and credibility is DOA, until proven otherwise. So far, nothing has yet risen from the grave.

  58. *******
    Ric Werme says:
    November 27, 2010 at 11:34 am

    On think in the thesis I hadn’t realized is that redwood leaves change greatly between low level and high level leaves. On the east coast, red oaks are one of my favorite examples, and is largely driven by sunlight and probably transpiration.
    *******

    Black oak (Q. velutina) is maybe the best ex. — the lowest, shadiest leaves can be a foot across & the normal indentations filled in to form a giant oval. Leaves higher up in full sun are much smaller & have the indentations scalloped out to the point where the leaf has little surface area. Look here:

    http://www.dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=39

  59. Rick W., 11-17 11:34;
    A very unusual and almost appropriate typo/malaprop, Rick:
    On think in the thesis I hadn’t realized”

  60. James Barker says: November 28, 2010 at 7:38 am

    The redwoods have thrived for thousands of years, without regard to the climate (weather)…

    Replace “thousands of years” with “~100 million years”.

    Redwoods have been transplanted all over the world where they grow just fine and reach maturity. They are not “climate limited”.

    Why has their “natural” range not expanded beyond Ice Age refugia? Because redwoods do not produce viable seed. A single tree can produce a million seeds a year, but none of them germinate. Redwoods spread by layering and root suckers.

    Interestingly, western red cedar is also a sterile seed producer, but has spread during the Holocene beyond coastal refugia as far east as the Rocky Mountains. Evidently they were transplanted, because they occur in widely separated groves.

    WRC was the single most useful tree to western Indian cultures. They called it “The Tree of Life” and used the roots, leaves, bark and wood for shelter, clothing, and utensils.

  61. Brian H says:
    November 29, 2010 at 10:55 am

    > Ric W., 11-17 11:34;
    > A very unusual and almost appropriate typo/malaprop, Ric:
    > “On think in the thesis I hadn’t realized”

    The best puns are accidental :-)

    I’ve been dropping the ‘e’ in ‘one’ lately, I have no idea why. Similarly switching ‘think’ and ‘thing’ (hmm, I get ‘thick and thin’ right). This may be one of the first times I got both together.

    On perforating redwoods – we perforate Sugar Maples in New Hampshire late each winter, the trees can fill in the hole drilled for the taps surprisingly quickly.

    Redwoods have to deal with forest fires. One line of defense is to be tall so the crown is way above ground level. Another is thick spongy bark that doesn’t burn well. Even then, fires can get into the heartwood and burn out large cavities but the tree often survives.

    Redwood lumber is naturally insect and rot resistant, which is why it’s used in decks and other outdoorsy stuff. A few cores each year (too small to drive through!) shouldn’t be much of a challenge to a living tree.

  62. MikeD:

    Fascinating info on nonviable seeds. Do you have any idea what it would take for the seeds to become viable? Wouldn’t they at one time have spread by seed by virtue of the fact that seeds even exist? It is my understanding that from fossil evidence it is known that the genus “Sequoia” and its close relatives once was common all over the entire northern hemisphere including Greenland, Alaska, Spitsbergen, Siberia.

    Looks like a trip to the uni library may be in order for me.

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