Claim: City Trees and Soil are Sucking More Carbon Out of the Atmosphere than Previously Thought


Researchers found that trees and soils on the outermost edge of forests may have a role in fighting climate change—but the benefits might not last

Peer-Reviewed Publication

BOSTON UNIVERSITY

Forest edge in Newton, MA
IMAGE: A FOREST EDGE IN NEWTON, MASS., WHERE RESEARCHERS CONSISTENTLY MEASURED AND MONITORED THE SOIL TO DETERMINE HOW MUCH CARBON IS BEING RELEASED. view more  CREDIT: PHOTO BY SARAH GARVEY

They may not have lungs like we do, but the soil and trees are breathing in and out all of the time. Trees take in carbon dioxide (CO2), release oxygen by way of photosynthesis, and store carbon in their trunks. And when the leaves land on the ground, soil microbes work to decompose the leaves and other organic matter, which releases carbon dioxide. 

Forests actually store more carbon dioxide than they release, which is great news for us: about 30 percent of carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are taken in by forests, an effect called the terrestrial carbon sink.

“That’s CO2 that’s not in the atmosphere,” says Boston University biogeochemist and ecologist Lucy Hutyra. “We’re not feeling the full effects of climate change because of the terrestrial climate sink. These forests are doing an incredible service to our planet.”

For more than a decade, Hutyra has been investigating what happens to the planet’s “lungs” when large forests are cut down into smaller patches, a process researchers call forest fragmentation. 

“We think about forests as big landscapes, but really they are chopped up into all these little segments because of the human world,” says Hutyra, a BU College of Arts & Sciences professor of Earth and environment. Forests get cut into smaller parcels, as chunks are taken down to make space for roads, buildings, agriculture, and solar farms—one of the biggest drivers of forest loss in Massachusetts. These alterations to forests create more areas called forest edges—literally, the trees at the outermost edge of a forest.

It has long been assumed that these forest edges release and store carbon at similar rates as forest interiors, but Hutyra and researchers in her lab at BU have discovered this isn’t true. Soils and trees in temperate forest edges in the Northeast United States are acting differently than those farther away from people. In two recent research papers, Hutyra’s team found edge trees grow faster than their country cousins deep in the forest, and that soil in urban areas can hoard more carbon dioxide than previously thought. Their results can challenge current ideas about conservation and the value of urban forests as more than places for recreation. 

Breathing In CO2

In one of the most detailed looks at temperate forest edges to date, Hutyra and her research team, including collaborators at the Harvard Forest, examined the growth rates of edge trees compared to the rest of the forest. 

Using data from the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Inventory and Analysis program—which monitors tree size, growth, and land use across the country—Hutyra’s team looked at more than 48,000 forest plots in the Northeast United States. They found trees on the edges grow nearly twice as fast as interior trees—those roughly 100 feet away from the edge. 

“This is likely because the trees on the edge don’t have competition with interior forest, so they get more light,” says Luca Morreale, a PhD candidate in Hutyra’s lab and lead author on the paper, published in Nature Communications, outlining the findings. And the more a tree grows, the more carbon it is taking in.

This is good news, considering over 25 percent of the landscape in the Northeast United States is covered by an edge. But this doesn’t mean that more forest fragmentation is a solution for sucking more carbon out of the atmosphere; carbon storage along the edges of fragmented areas does not come close to offsetting the negative side effects of losing forests—like releasing carbon long stored underground back into the atmosphere. 

According to Morreale and Hutyra, their study instead points to the need to better understand and conserve existing forest edges, which are typically seen as more disposable. “We are underestimating how much carbon is being taken up by temperate forest edges,” Hutyra says. “We also need to think about how susceptible they might be in the future to climate change,” because previous studies have shown that even though these trees are growing faster from more sunlight, hotter temperatures cause growth rates of edge trees to plummet. 

Breathing Out CO2

In a second related study, Hutyra teamed up with BU biologist Pamela Templer to find that soils at the forest edge felt the effects of forest fragmentation, just like the trees. 

“Soils contain wild amounts of bacteria, fungi, roots, and microorganisms, and just the way we breathe out CO2 when working and being active, they respire CO2, as well,” says Sarah Garvey, a PhD candidate in Hutyra’s lab and lead author of a paper on forest edge soils published in Global Change Biology“With soil, there is more there than meets the eye.”  

Garvey found that not only does forest edge soil release more carbon than interior forest soil, but that the soil is acting dramatically differently in rural and urban forests. 

She visited eight field sites in developed and undeveloped areas of Massachusetts every two weeks for a year and a half (skipping the winter, when the ground is covered in ice) to measure the levels of carbon being released from the soils. She and her team would take a snapshot of the temperature and moisture levels of the soil at the forest edge, and then walk about 300 feet into the forest to take measurements again.

They saw that in rural areas with fewer people and buildings, warmer temperatures at the edge of the forest caused leaves and organic matter to decompose faster, forcing the soil microorganisms to work harder and release more carbon dioxide than their cooler, more shaded peers in the forest interior. But, in urban forests, where the ground was significantly hotter and drier, those soils stopped releasing as much carbon. 

“It’s so hot and dry that the microbes are not happy and they’re not doing their thing,” Hutyra says. The long-term effect of unhappy soil is uncertain, but the findings also mean that urban soils, like those in Franklin Park, the largest public park in Boston, could have a greater capacity to store carbon than previously expected, says Garvey. Her next project will look deeper into the possible mechanisms behind the different carbon release and storage rates.  

Critical for Our Future

Although discovering that urban trees and soils store more carbon might seem like “a double whammy of a good thing,” Hutyra says, it’s unclear if this boost in carbon uptake will last as the planet continues to warm. 

Climate change could exacerbate carbon losses from soil, and the trees at the edge of forests in rural or urban areas could be more vulnerable to extreme heat and drought.

“Forests store almost half of their carbon below ground,” Garvey says. “Which is why understanding the relationships between the soil and the plant life is so vital to understanding the bigger picture of how forests store carbon for the long term.”

With cities and countries making commitments to plant more trees in an effort to curb the impacts of climate change, the researchers in Hutyra’s lab all agree that thinking about the greater context of the trees and soils, and where new trees are planted, is extremely important. Factoring in the elevated amounts of carbon stored by forest edges should be taken into account when looking at long-term projections of climate change, as well. 

“We need to think about that as we [decide] what areas to conserve, what to develop, and how to tackle climate change solutions,” Hutyra says. “Is a place like Franklin Park where there’s tons of foot traffic just as valuable to save as a remote forest in Maine where three people visit? There’s no easy answer.”


JOURNAL

Global Change Biology

DOI

10.1111/gcb.16099 

ARTICLE TITLE

Diverging patterns at the forest edge: Soil respiration dynamics of fragmented forests in urban and rural areas

ARTICLE PUBLICATION DATE

16-Feb-2022

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Old Goat(@khazi22)
February 17, 2022 2:10 am

Nobody is “fighting”, or “tackling” climate change -they are merely pretending to, and deceiving the more gullible amongst us.

The changing climate has done s for bilennia, and will continue to do so, whilst there IS a climate, and nothing man can do will change that (unless, of course, they cause the planet to cease to exist – a goal I’m sure some are interested in…)

Scissor
Reply to  Old Goat
February 17, 2022 4:28 am

Science is losing its way when scientists make quantitative statements like, “soils contain wild amounts of…”

Bryan A
Reply to  Scissor
February 17, 2022 5:33 am

I always thought that, with soil microbes, the issue wasn’t Carbon CO2 but Carbon CH4 released in digestion of vegetation

Richard Page
Reply to  Scissor
February 17, 2022 5:44 am

Or, in regards to a carbon sink; “That’s CO2 that’s not in the atmosphere” brilliant deduction to state the bleeding obvious.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Richard Page
February 17, 2022 10:11 am

Richard, It’s obvious, but I see something that perhaps the researchers didn’t see. For the edges of the forest to have this extra vitality makes darwinian sense (and logical sense). All of life has an imperative to prevail.

The trees in the midst of the forest are caught up in the limiting competion for sunlight and nutrients, but at the edges, and with deeper roots, these new young trees can maximize their ability to use full sunshine, and easily overwhelm the shrubs and grasses in accessing nutrients.

Now a holistic study (which shows understanding of what is going on), would have sampled the grasses and shrubs and been able to report that these plants do not stand up well at their edges!

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Richard Page
February 17, 2022 10:12 am

that level of sophistication is typical of forestry “researchers”- I’ve been complaining about them for years- while telling them what research we really need- we who work in the forests to produce wood products for the world

Sara
Reply to  Scissor
February 17, 2022 7:00 am

Well, may one ask just what makes these researchers think that there is an “average” (for want of a better word) that has to be observed somehow? Why is it strange to them that a carbon load in one area differs from the carbon load in another? Have they done any work in grasslands? Unlikely, from what the author says, and we have a bountiful acreage of open grasslands – NO TREES – in my county alone.

Not sure exactly what the problem is. They obviously have only investigated wooded areas, instead of going to places like the prairie grasslands and farmlands, where the trees are few and far between (unless they are hedgerows of old osage oranges) planted back in the Depression era.

This research addresses only ONE thing: if the people involved in this expect me to take them seriously, then they’d be wiser to expand their horizons and address all areas where there are wide varieties of plants. Otherwise, I question their results.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Sara
February 17, 2022 10:25 am

Last time I dug into old textbooks- I recall that prairie grasslands can hold a great deal of carbon- especially if it’s the native vegetation with very long/dense root system. This sort of research was done a long time ago- probably mentioned in any good college level ecology course.

Sara
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 17, 2022 5:02 pm

Thank you, Joseph Zorzin, and keep bringing that up. The more it’s put in front of people, the better.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Old Goat
February 17, 2022 5:29 pm

Reminds me of a bumper sticker in Southern California, around 1987, which read: “STOP PLATE TECTONICS!” About the same level of lost cause, IMHO.

Ron Long
February 17, 2022 2:21 am

Wow, a report with some actually useful information, but contaminated by the idea of “fighting climate change”. So the NASA report of 10% greening of the earth tells us that our photosynthesis friends are enjoying our help with CO2, and it looks like we should add more to the atmosphere? And trees at the edge of the forest grow more than trees in the interior, so we should leave some of the forested areas alone, and not clear them for solar panels? This is actually a useful report, probably not as planned by the authors.

PCman999
Reply to  Ron Long
February 17, 2022 9:20 pm

Nasa’s report said something like 15-20% greener over the satellite era, say 1970-ish until now. Much better than just 10% – would be even higher if greenwashers weren’t paving over forests with solar panels and access roads to wind turbines…

Pablo
February 17, 2022 2:43 am

IMAGE: A FOREST EDGE IN NEWTON, MASS., WHERE RESEARCHERS CONSISTENTLY MEASURED AND MONITORED THE SOIL TO DETERMINE HOW MUCH CARBON IS BEING RELEASED

I spot two cars.

dk_
Reply to  Pablo
February 17, 2022 5:27 am

They didn’t inhale

Bryan A
Reply to  Pablo
February 17, 2022 5:34 am

I spy 2 street lights

Sara
Reply to  Pablo
February 17, 2022 7:02 am

What about the deer herds?

February 17, 2022 2:58 am

“We’re not feeling the full effects of climate change because of the terrestrial climate sink. These forests are doing an incredible service to our planet.”

What a BS that statement is offering. Not because CO2 and CC, but because of the “full effect” of it. These trees didn’t start from a day to an other to reduce CO2, but they always did and climate is as it is .

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 17, 2022 10:32 am

Isn’t the ocean carbon sink far bigger than the terrestrial carbon sink.

And, what’s with “climate sink”- that’s dumb even for forestry “researchers”.

PCman999
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 17, 2022 9:22 pm

Coining “Climate Sink” is consistent with making it up as they go.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 18, 2022 9:51 am

Yes, it’s some new sort of BS. “Climate” sink asks for a “cliate” source… new concepts, very … innovative … (in European jargon).

February 17, 2022 3:07 am

Actually, it looks to me all this greening is doing the extra warming…..
https://breadonthewater.co.za/2022/01/10/global-warming-due-to-ehhh-global-greening/

MarkW
Reply to  HenryP
February 17, 2022 7:51 am

What started the warming before CO2 started rising?
Why is are the areas that are warming the most, greening the least?

Reply to  MarkW
February 17, 2022 1:58 pm

I am not with you Mark. I’m saying that everywhere where it gets greener it is getting warmer. Remember that the extra CO2 diffuses to take the same concentration.

PCman999
Reply to  MarkW
February 17, 2022 9:29 pm

Some of the areas most greening, as depicted in the graph in HenryP’s link are exactly the ones said to be most warming, the far North.

greenleaf-1000x675.png
diggs
February 17, 2022 3:09 am

“We need to protect the forest edges”

Ok, so how can you have a forest without an edge? If you get rid of one edge, a new edge miraculously appears out of nowhere

/sarc

H.R.
Reply to  diggs
February 17, 2022 4:17 am

Would a Mobius forest take care of that?

Reply to  H.R.
February 17, 2022 4:46 am

A sphere has a finite surface area and no boundary to that area

H.R.
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
February 17, 2022 5:39 am

I thought of that, Philip, but when you come to the edge of a Continent, you come to the edge of a forest. (Brought the old “Assume a spherical cow” joke to mind.)

But if you follow the path through a Mobius forest, you never reach the edge.

And if you plant a spherical forest, the gravity pulling in from all directions will be too much for trees to grow. At best you’ll only get shrubs.

(😉😉 double winky. diggs had the first, best absurdity regarding their statement. We’re just upping the ‘Mock’ factor. Looks like we are at Mock III.)

Reply to  H.R.
February 17, 2022 7:38 am

OK going for level IV, it has to be a Klein Bottle because a Mobius Strip still has ONE edge.
Yes, diggs has the edge on both of us 🙂

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
February 17, 2022 7:47 am

Heidi D. Klein makes bottles now?

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
February 17, 2022 9:41 am

She got tired of hockey sticks.

PCman999
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
February 17, 2022 9:35 pm

I don’t think the Klein Bottle is a good analog to the Mobius strip. One can imagine travelling around the Mobius strip continually, but with the Klein Bottle one goes from the outer surface to the inner and then you’re done, stop.

MarkW
Reply to  H.R.
February 17, 2022 7:53 am

Why would a spherical forest have a large gravity?

H.R.
Reply to  MarkW
February 17, 2022 9:07 am

Never lower the flaps when you are going Mock V.
😉

fretslider
Reply to  diggs
February 17, 2022 4:44 am

It sounds like they’ve just discovered an ecotone.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  diggs
February 17, 2022 5:49 am

Awarding a leg up to the forest edge over the forest, sounds suspiciously like rationalizing an alibi when cutting down forests to install solar arrays, which green industry is doing.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Alan Robertson
February 17, 2022 9:59 am

So we can clear cut inside a forest and make a lot more edges?

Joseph Zorzin
February 17, 2022 3:16 am

In “one of the biggest drivers of forest loss in Massachusetts

“The state Department of Energy Resources estimates that approximately 2,500 acres of trees — equal to the size of 50 Boston Commons — have been cut down to put up solar panels in the last 10 to 15 years.”

That was published in 2019. It’s already up about 300% but that’s just the beginning. The state has a net zero by ’50 law. To get there hundreds of thousands of acres of forest will have to be converted to solar. I’ve been complaining about this for a decade since a big one was built near me- back when all enviros worshiped all solar. I asked all the enviro groups in Mass. to come look at it- none did. Now, they’re all complaining about it- without grasping that they can’t have it both ways- they can’t get to net zero (if ever)- without all this forest destruction.

“The trend is particularly pronounced in the western part of the state, where some residents and environmentalists are worried the demand for cleaner energy is destroying some of their beloved forests.”

Right, most of the early, big solar farms were in low income central Mass. where the enviro groups have less interest because they don’t live here. Many live in the Connecticut River Valley (lots of colleges and where the back roads are inhabited by old hippy dropouts from U. Mass.) and in “the beautiful Berkshires” now mostly owned by the ultra rich from NYC and wealthy CT towns.

Last edited 3 months ago by Joseph Zorzin
February 17, 2022 3:31 am

“That’s CO2 that’s not in the atmosphere,” says Boston University biogeochemist and ecologist Lucy Hutyra. “We’re not feeling the full effects of climate change because of the terrestrial climate sink. These forests are doing an incredible service to our planet.”

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  zee raja
February 17, 2022 10:36 am

anybody know what a climate sink is? If only I knew how to draw…

Peta of Newark
February 17, 2022 4:03 am

Quote:”Forests actually store more carbon dioxide than they release

Think about that, the incredulity that’s apparent in someone seemingly oblivious to the fact that the forest wouldn’t be there if it weren’t true

Quote:”It’s so hot and dry that the microbes are not happy and they’re not doing their thing,

Bad news hun. They’re ‘not doing their thing‘ because they are dead.
This sorry state doesn’t last long though as any one or more of an NOx molecule, an Ozone molecule or a few UV photons will cremate the frazzled corpse and it will spend the next 34, 71, forever years floating around in the sky and wasting the world as it goes

Quote:”And when the leaves land on the ground, soil microbes work to decompose the leaves and other organic matter, which releases carbon dioxide.

This is indubitably true sweetness.
It’s also true that fish can swim but, fish also make baby fish. Fish notably have a penchant for water.
Now the tricky bit, Which came first, the fish, the baby fish or, the water?
And the really tricky bit, where did your Fossil Fuels come from?

Quote:”“Forests store almost half of their carbon below ground,

Is anyone in the house familiar with a back-hoe loader, a Hymac or one of them monster machines the Germans use for digging Lignite and lend such a thing to these peeps.
Such is the scale of the error here

Quote:”But this doesn’t mean that more forest fragmentation is a solution for sucking more carbon out of the atmosphere

How is it possible to get anything any more wrong? Fragmentation destroys the forest – just ask anyone everyone who has ever been a ‘hunter’ over the last 10,000+ years.
Ask the folks of California and Australia with their ‘protective burning’

Quote:”forcing the soil microorganisms to work harder and release more carbon dioxide than their cooler, m…
[I can’t immediately recall in the face of a rapidly depleting laptop battery but what’s the word where you give human characteristics to ‘things’]

Anyway, point being, nobody ‘forces’ microbes to do anything – sorry people – you really rather give yourselves away..

At which point, ttfn

Sara
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 17, 2022 7:09 am

You missed the part where she left out the benefit of sap, which can be harvested and turned into syrup (depending on the tree species) and make your pancakes and waffles taste better.

I don’t find anything that says the researchers understand just how the CO2 intake works: when mixed with water from the ground (root system), it turns into sap (all plants have some kind of sap) and in the case of specific species (e.g., maples) can be harvested and turned into pancake syrup and make winter morning breakfasts cheerier. Plant sap is mostly a carbohydrate that we refer to as SUGAR, and in some plants, does more than just rise in the Springtime.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 17, 2022 10:02 am

Anthropomorphism, not to be confused, as it often is, with anthropogenic.

YallaYPoora Kid
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 18, 2022 3:42 am

Yeah sounds more like a concentration camp for microbes, those poor innocent things having to work so hard on the fringes of the forest. The author couldn’t consider that more sunlight on the fringes producing more warmth might allow microbes to multiply faster. Oh the inhumanity of it all!

February 17, 2022 4:19 am

Hutyra’s team found edge trees grow faster than their country cousins deep in the forest

More basic Ecology 101.
Nature conservation management procedures stress the importance of mosaic structure for habitat diversity and ecological resilience. For example want to have more grouse on your heather moor to provide food for predators (of all kinds…)? Then burn the moor in patches so that there is more boundary where the birds can reach young heather shoots from the shelter of old growth heather.
And so on…

Mulholland P, 1980. A study of the cycle of regeneration in the beech dominated woodlands of Epping Forest, Essex using a Markovian matrix analysis. University of London MSc Dissertation.

Last edited 3 months ago by Philip Mulholland
Sara
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
February 17, 2022 7:27 am

Isn’t it the same thing with planting grain in large plots, like a half-section (320 acres)? But instead of just one kind of grain (e.g., high-fructose corn), you plant one plot of corn, one plot of soybeans (they fix nitrogen in the soil, as does alfalfa) and another plot of hard red winter wheat, which is harvested just ahead of spring plowing IF it’s ripe and ready. (Basic crop rotation – learned about it in 5th grade, when real stuff was taught).

The point is that those diverse plants benefit from each other and also do benefit the soil with the debris left from harvesting. It is plowed under and aerates the soil, among other things.

That’s a rough way of describing it on my part.

Reply to  Sara
February 17, 2022 7:53 am

Basic crop rotation

Sara,
Yes, that is what my study of Epping Forest showed. A natural three-stage species rotation of 1. Pioneer Birch, 2. Soil improving deep-rooted Oak, 3. Soil exploiting shallow-rooted Beech and then back to Pioneer Birch over a period of hundreds of years. The Markovian Analysis showed that in a large multi-age mosaic woodland all ecological stages are always represented.

Sara
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
February 17, 2022 10:16 am

Thank you, Philip! That is exactly what happens, even in the diverse world of trees and bushes and grassland plants.

I see it in what I will call “wildflowers” – native flowering plants such as wild irises near the river or the ponds, waterlilies in the ponds replaced by cattails and vice versa, swaths of listaria of different species that come one year and are gone the next, replaced by some other flowering plant. The list is nearly endless, but it all seems to go through cycles. This Spring, it will be purple/blood trilliums replacing the large white trilliums as well as swaths of woodland anemones and later on, a HUGE number of other species that inhabit the area.

I pity anyone who does not understand that Nature’s way IS diversity on a constant cycle. One year it’s snapping turtles, the next year it’s leopard frogs of every hue from red to green.

I’m hoping for a LOT of dragonflies this summer, as well as some halictid bees that I saw a few years ago.

So if I brought this up with those researchers, would they have any idea what I”m talking about? Sorry, but I do have my doubts.

2hotel9
February 17, 2022 4:23 am

So, once again these clowns prove they got no idea what the hell they are babbling about. All about the money and nothing more.

fretslider
Reply to  2hotel9
February 17, 2022 4:49 am

For some strange reason this nonsense reminded me of a famous Genesis number

“There’s only one direction in the faces that I see;
It’s upward to the ceiling, where the chambers said to be.
Like the forest fight for sunlight, that takes root in every tree.
They are pulled up by the magnet, believing that they’re free.
The carpet crawlers heed their callers:”

Don’t they just.

2hotel9
Reply to  fretslider
February 17, 2022 6:57 am

I have not heard that song in ages! Have to pull it up on pandora today.

fretslider
February 17, 2022 4:29 am

CO2 is doubleplusungood. This ‘fact’ must be accepted before proceeding with any study.

“We’re not feeling the full effects of climate change” 

Who is we? The UK climate is pretty much the same as it ever was in my lifetime – although the 60s and 70s were on balance a bit chillier.

Earlier today I heard on the BBC how psychedelics are now being favoured for treating a number of mental illnesses. I would suggest the authors appear to have a case of CO2 fixated climate anxiety. I wonder if Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds or magic mushrooms might help?

Last edited 3 months ago by fretslider
Michael in Dublin
February 17, 2022 4:38 am

Does this not mean that some thinning of older trees in a forest will allow for more light and space for younger trees and more absorption of CO2? If so why would we not want more sensible logging?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
February 17, 2022 10:40 am

there is a new movement now among the climatistas called PROFORESTATION- whereby they’ve concluded that we must lock up all the forests so they do nothing but sequester carbon- when asked where will we get wood for homes, furniture, paper, etc…. they vanish

aussiecol
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
February 17, 2022 1:10 pm

Exactly right. Even the IPCC say,
A sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.”

Removing the old trees stops the CO2 from decaying wood within (rot) and promotes the younger trees to become more vibrant and store more CO2 due to more solid wood.

Gregory Woods
February 17, 2022 4:43 am

“That’s CO2 that’s not in the atmosphere,” says Boston University biogeochemist and ecologist Lucy Hutyra.

and she says this as if it were a good thing….

Sara
Reply to  Gregory Woods
February 17, 2022 10:18 am

…. and without CO2, plants will die, period. Should we tell her, or let her find out for herself?

TonyG
Reply to  Sara
February 17, 2022 1:46 pm

Wouldn’t it be something if we could put people in (large) controlled environments where we regulate CO2 to be at whatever level they say it SHOULD be, and let them see what that’s actually like?

Of course, that would require one of them actually SAYING what CO2 levels should be…

Disputin
February 17, 2022 4:54 am

“…as the planet continues to warm. ”

But it isn’t!

Garboard
February 17, 2022 5:18 am

Trees don’t “store” co2 ; they transform it into living organic matter . Big difference . How much carbon does a human store ?

Sara
Reply to  Garboard
February 17, 2022 7:37 am

Well, Garboard, you have to take into account that like all other animals, Hoomans are a carbon-based life form and carbon molecules make up about 12% of the total. It’s a very accomodating element, allows all sorts of other chemicals/elements to bond with it and produce live organisms. But we don’t store it quite the way plants do.

In fact, I think all organisms, including plats and green slop called algae, are carbon-based life forms. Nothing has shown up yet to refute the notion that the carbon molecule is a real danger to life on this planet because all life on this planet is based on the exquisite and incredible transactions between the carbon and other elements, to produce living organisms.

I have a shrimp fossil from the Carboniferous era, plus a fossil leaf from an Alethopteris, a seeded fern from back then, when the oxygen level was so high that dragonflies had 3-foot wingspans and centipedes were very poisonous and up to 6 feet long. They also had some bodacious firestorms, because of the high oxygen stmospheric level. Ask David Middleton about that and the Silurian period.

Willem Post
February 17, 2022 5:25 am

ANOTHER USELESS REPORT FINANCED WITH FEDERAL MONEY
WHERE ARE THE NUMBERS?
HOW MUCH MORE PER ACRE OF EDGE?

US forests absorb about 0.90 metric ton of CO2 per acre, per year, per EPA.
US CO2 emissions are about 5500 million metric ton, per year, per EPA

Last edited 3 months ago by Willem Post
Albert H Brand
Reply to  Willem Post
February 17, 2022 7:00 am

And the us has about 781 million acres. I guess not too much is absorbed

Pflashgordon
February 17, 2022 5:29 am

Duh. Anyone who has ever designed a field plot experiment knows as a fact that there will be edge effects, which must be taken into account when assigning treatments to plots, when sampling, and when a priori determining the statistical design (none of which appears to have even been considered by these pseudo scientists).

As Mr. Zorzin, a real forester, will confirm for us, a lot changes at the forest edge, including species mix, understory, litter, micrometeorology, soil properties, etc. These Boston biologists act as though they are surprised by this and that they have discovered something new and unprecedented. In fact, this sort of thing is generally taught in freshman science classes.

A bunch of big city biologists granting doctoral degrees to big city kids who had probably never seen nature except on school field trips. This press release reminds me of the recent WUWT post about the “researchers” studying the Pacific Coast of Oregon. The stuff of elementary school science fair projects.

John Pickens
February 17, 2022 5:30 am

This forest edge phenomenon is already well known. Heck, I did an undergraduate biological statistics study of the effect in 1977. It was suggested by my professor as one of many possible easy to perform studies which could be carried out for the assignment. I went out with a light meter and did transects both across and aligned with the forest edge to record light levels on the ground. It showed the effect with great statistical demonstration.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  John Pickens
February 17, 2022 6:30 am

“I went out with a light meter and did transects both across and aligned with the forest edge”
For a minute there I thought I was back playing Zork again.

Jyrkoff
Reply to  John Pickens
February 17, 2022 7:07 am

You just reminded me of a test item from college science: biotone. I was trying to recall what you call that “in between” area from forest to grassland. Thank you!

This openness allowing more sun is well known to be why dense forests tend to be less productive. There’s just not enough light reaching the floor for any of the “cleanup crews” in nature to do their thing.

So, well-maintained, parklike, open forests, are best, we think? Gosh that sounds like the same good advice we’ve been offering for decades. But no, total suppression of the fire cycle for more than 100 years was their call. Thus leading us into disastrous mandmade fire after disastrous manmade fire.

What we advised is not only fire safe, but apparently carbon-negative as well. So goes another “conspiracy theory.” Yes, we will be raking the forest and thinning so we have low, fast fires that maintain, and open forests that sink carbon as they are supposed to.

Forests grow out from their edges so in terms of renewable resources in the form of forest products, hint hint hint….

Coeur de Lion
February 17, 2022 5:55 am

Those who say ‘carbon’ when they mean carbon dioxide are lazy, have a agenda or are lying. Which here? Anyway we are ‘fighting global warming’ not climate change. And by golly doing rather well. Looking at UAH readout global temp today same as 1988. Three quarters of a degree C cooling since the 2016 El Niño spike. Well done the alarmists! Btw I thought a tree was carbon DIOXIDE neutral over whole life?

Right-Handed Shark
February 17, 2022 6:26 am

Come on guys, don’t give poor Lucy such a hard time. At least she has discovered the carbon cycle and now realises that CO2 doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for ever like some of her fellow “scientists” would like us to believe. It can only be a matter of a few decades more of her studies to have the epiphany that all plants, not just trees, take in CO2 and release it when they die. Then realise that the same processes take place in the oceans, and then finally conclude that human emissions of CO2 are background noise in the greater carbon cycle. You know, the same stuff we were taught in school back in the 1960’s, but is forbidden knowledge these days.

LJG
February 17, 2022 6:39 am

I am all for more trees and more parks in cities.

fretslider
Reply to  LJG
February 17, 2022 7:58 am

Local councils aren’t so keen because they have to maintain trees. In my area a much loved and very old Chestnut avenue was chopped down (chestnuts are more expensive to maintain) and replaced with cheaper lime trees.

“Tooting Common’s trees: A mayoral policy contradiction”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-41241187

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  fretslider
February 17, 2022 10:46 am

your town should have looked for some volunteers to maintain the chestnut trees

menace
February 17, 2022 8:05 am

Duh I’ve always noticed trees with more exposure to sun/sky grow faster and larger

NotBob
February 17, 2022 8:18 am

Trees on the edge of a forest get more direct sunlight than those in the interior where the sun is partially blocked by other nearby trees.

Felix
February 17, 2022 8:39 am

There have been several “studies” similar to this recently. Either reporting has exposed more of them, or ….. /me smells the first rats leaving a sinking ship, or at least to prepare the public for the coming flood of excuses for their failed models and predictions.

markl
February 17, 2022 8:48 am

I’m surprised they haven’t claimed that excess oxygen is being produced due to this natural “phenomena” which will lead to reduced breathing capacity requirements and physical abnormalities that will affect future generations.

Joseph Zorzin
February 17, 2022 9:55 am

““This is likely because the trees on the edge don’t have competition with interior forest, so they get more light,””

that ain’t rocket science- trees on the edge are more likely to have live branches to the ground- I suppose that researcher will get a PhD for that brilliant, Einstein like research

Joseph Zorzin
February 17, 2022 10:00 am

“We are underestimating how much carbon is being taken up by temperate forest edges,” Hutyra says. “We also need to think about how susceptible they might be in the future to climate change,” because previous studies have shown that even though these trees are growing faster from more sunlight, hotter temperatures cause growth rates of edge trees to plummet.

total nonsense- trees like warm temperatures- and in recent years we’ve gotten more rain, at least here in the Northeast, where this “research” is being done- so with more warmth, longer growing seasons, and more rain- trees are growing faster than ever

too much “forest research” is being done by people who have no clue about the practice of forestry- the researchers are usually biologists who look down their noses at people who actually work in forests, like field foresters- so they won’t bother to talk to us – we spend years out there and we know the forests quite well- and I know Harvard Forest quite well, it’s only several miles from me- been there many times at events, mostly BS events

Joseph Zorzin
February 17, 2022 10:05 am

“Factoring in the elevated amounts of carbon stored by forest edges should be taken into account when looking at long-term projections of climate change, as well. ”

This “fact” that these “researchers” have “discovered” is extremely trivial. As a field forester for almost half a century- I’ve complained a lot over the fact that forestry researchers have done so little in the way of USEFUL research for those of us trying to earn a living in the forests. We tell them what research is really needed but they have no interest in what we say- too focused on extreme trivia.

marlene
February 17, 2022 11:39 am

“…but the benefits might not last”? Sure, not if they can make sure they don’t.

LARRY K SIDERS
February 17, 2022 11:56 am

Soil Restoration Agriculture can sequester the Carbon equivalent 350 to 700 tons of CO2 per acre from all of our Croplands… for free. The US has ~250 million acres of cropland.

Soil Regeneration is an interesting development in Agriculture. Pioneer “Regen Farms” have been able to increase biological activity in the soil steadily over several years… back to normal levels. This increases Soil Carbon Content by around ~ 0.5% annually. Topsoil weighs ~1000 tons an acre so 0.5% is 50 tons of carbon which comes from 183 tons of CO2. 5% increases are common and up to 8% carbon increases have been achieved over 5 to 10 years.

With a few Cover Crop and Foliar Feeding and Soil Inoculation “hacks”, farms are making the 5 to 10 year transitions without reducing farm production or income. Many have actually achieved large increases in income during the transition. We’re getting better at it. Transitioning to “Soil Regen” requires farms to wean off Inorganic Fertilizers and Pesticides and Herbicides and Tillage because each of those things suppresses or kills soil biology. Eliminating fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and tillage (diesel fuel) results in very significant cost savings.

A HUGE positive side effect of Soil Regen is a change in soil texture and composition that can absorb up to 20 inches of rain per hour compared to the “normal” 1 inch of rain or less per hour. If all farms had these soils the only flooding we’d suffer would be in the Cities. These fields are very drought resistant.

Another side effect of Soil Regen Ag is a temperature reduction in those fields compared to the surrounding “normal” fields

If the Fake Carbon Markets are ever established and Carbon prices settle at $30 per ton, farmers could all get rich… and we all could avoid paying $100 Trillion for a redundant Fake energy supply…or save even more $Trillions from paying for pie in the sky Carbon Capture Bahrmouth Machines (currently on the drawing boards of Start-Up Companies looking to cash in on the Climate Fraud).

It’s curious to me that REAL ENVIRONMENTALISTS haven’t been demanding subsidies for Farms to make the “Soil Regen” Transition. I suspect that’s because the Climate Fraud Industry doesn’t really want any actual solutions to their made-up “Crisis”.

Doonman
February 17, 2022 12:16 pm

Anyone who says “The science is settled” in one breath and “It’s different than we thought” in another is a charlatan by definition. You cannot have it both ways.

Andy Pattullo
February 17, 2022 1:17 pm

Vegetation and soil are not ‘fighting climate change”. They are just doing what nature designed them to do. Only idiotic uneducated progressives could be stupid enough to waste energy try to stop the climate from doing its thing.

Michael in Dublin
February 18, 2022 7:33 am

I follow the tested science.
I believe in the enormous benefit of photosynthesis – it is marvelous.
I believe CO2 is plant food.

S Browne
February 19, 2022 6:23 pm

The pertinent question is does the more rapid uptake of CO2 it the edges of forests more than compensate for the loss of CO2 uptake in the areas cleared by man for roads, power lines, buildings, etc. My bet is no. So, I don’t see where this study means much of anything.

Foo Bar
February 20, 2022 5:53 pm

But I though you need to cut trees to allow sunshine to reach PV panels on your or your neighbor’s roof? Isn’t it what Cali courts and SolarCity salesmen were talking about?

Walt
February 23, 2022 1:25 pm

How does this dovetail with the claim that clear cutting forests for wood chips is a valid renewables choice?

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