Plant gases can counteract Arctic climate changeApril 05, 2016
Plant gasses possibly dampen the temperature rise in Greenland. Plants emit compounds to deter pests or attract pollinators, and as a side effect particles are formed when the compounds interact in the air. These particles can contribute to the formation of clouds, which reflect incoming solar radiation, and thus prevent solar heat from reaching the ground and warming it additionally. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have studied the effect of the imminent climate changes on the release of so-called "biogenic volatiles" to the atmosphere above Greenland. The sensational results are now being published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Geoscience.
The study of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) is in itself interesting. They include fragrances, which are released by all organisms, and they are important to the communication between plants and animals, e.g. as a defense mechanism through the repelling of pests. This is well-known in the scientific community, but the possible role of these gasses is less well-known in connection with the arctic climate changes, which are predicted to be more pronounced than elsewhere on the planet.
Now, researchers from the Department of Biology and Center for Permafrost (CENPERM) at the University of Copenhagen have studied the biogenic volatiles in Greenland in a climate change context, and the results are sensational. The release of volatiles is known to be sensitive to temperature and light availability. Now the researchers show, that the biogenic volatiles of the arctic areas are much more sensitive to climate changes than previously expected.
A devil in paradise
It all began in 2007. Field experiments were set up in Kobbefjorden near Nuuk - the capital of Greenland - with the purpose of monitoring changes in ecosystems caused by climate changes. In one experiment small open top greenhouses were used to simulate warming of the vegetation. A less debated, nevertheless important, consequence of climate changes is the possible increase in the cloud cover. To mimic the response of the biogenic volatiles to an increased cloud cover, the researchers also put up hessian tents shading the vegetation. And this experiment payed off.
The project leader, associate professor Riikka Rinnan from the Department of Biology at UCPH, says:
"It seems that 3-4 times more biogenic volatiles are released from the tundra upon a two degree temperature rise, when the sun has a free rein. However, when the tundra is in the shade, the release of volatiles is decreased by 70%. Our results show that the release of volatile compounds is extremely sensitive to climate changes. In comparison to other biological processes, such as CO2 release through plant respiration, we discovered that the release of volatile compounds in the Arctic is almost 20 times as sensitive to temperature rise. And that is surprising".
It is the first time researchers have separately measured all ecosystem components. To locate the origin of the effect, the researchers measured on each of the dominant plants, while also surveying the effect on the bare soil.
"We show that the warming increases the release from plants, but not from the soil. We also show that the warming has actually reduced plant growth in the area, most likely through drought due to higher evapotranspiration caused by the warming. None the less, the impact on the release of biogenic volatiles was so substantial, that despite the reduction in biomass, we still see a rise for the ecosystem as a whole".
The positive side of things
Even though the "shady side" of the story is positive, the "sunny side of the tundra" is negative. "When volatile compounds react in the atmosphere, they impact two different directions. Firstly, they prolong the lifespan of methane, which is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas - 25 times as bad as CO2. Secondly, they stimulate formation and growth of particles in the air, and this cools down the climate. Thanks to the purity of the arctic air, the release of the particle-forming volatiles from the tundra is of particular importance. Cloud formation depends on the presence of particles, on which water condenses, and an increased release of volatile compounds from the tundra leads to the formation of more particles in the atmosphere and perhaps clouds. This can have a large impact on the arctic climate", Riikka Rinnan points out.
Due to the large amounts of ice, the Arctic can influence global climate changes. And if the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet can be slowed down, it will have a large effect on the climate in the rest of the world.
Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen
Related Climate Articles:
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques.
There are gaping divisions in Americans' views across every dimension of the climate debate, including causes and cures for climate change and trust in climate scientists and their research, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
A group of James Cook University scientists led by Emeritus Professor Ross Alford has designed and built an inexpensive incubator that could boost research into how animals and plants will be affected by climate change.
New research finds that Tweets and Google searches about climate change set new record highs after Leonardo DiCaprio's Academy Awards acceptance speech, suggesting celebrity advocacy for social issues on a big stage can motivate popular engagement.
Researchers use the North Atlantic Oscillation as a predictive tool for managing an iconic fishery.
The ability to predict when toads come out of hibernation in southern Canada could provide valuable insights into the future effects of climate change on a range of animals and plants.
A new report by the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene details the impacts of climate change on the health of Marylanders now and in the future.
Related Climate Reading:
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change (The Politically Incorrect Guides)
by Marc Morano (Author)
Less freedom. More regulation. Higher costs. Make no mistake: those are the surefire consequences of the modern global warming campaign waged by political and cultural elites, who have long ago abandoned fact-based science for dramatic fearmongering in order to push increased central planning. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change gives a voice -- backed by statistics, real-life stories, and incontrovertible evidence -- to the millions of "deplorable" Americans skeptical about the multibillion dollar "climate change" complex, whose claims have time and time again been... View Details
The Climate Chronicles: Inconvenient Revelations You Won't Hear From Al Gore--And Others
by Joe Bastardi (Author)
A revealing look by someone who has loved the weather since his first memory--and has worked in the field for over 40 years--at what is really inside the man-made "climate change" agenda. The author shows through countless examples, the exploitation, politicization, and weaponization of weather and climate in an effort to promote an agenda that runs counter to the foundations this nation was built on. View Details
Climate (Science Readers: Content and Literacy)
by Teacher Created Materials (Author)
Don't get caught wearing flip flops in the snow! Knowing about the climate of different places will prepare you for any kind of weather. Take a trip from the equator to the polar regions of Earth and learn about the different climate zones in this exciting book. Teach third-grade students about the distinct features of climate zones categorized by latitudinal location. In this high-interest informational text filled with engaging photographs, students will enjoy exploring nonliving features that affect climate development, climate's effects on living things, and the patterns of climate change... View Details
Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change
by Mary Beth Pfeiffer (Author)
"Superbly written and researched." —Booklist
"Builds a strong case." —Kirkus
Lyme disease is spreading rapidly around the globe as ticks move into places they could not survive before. The first epidemic to emerge in the era of climate change, the disease infects half a million people in the US and Europe each year, and untold multitudes in Canada, China, Russia, and Australia.
Mary Beth Pfeiffer shows how we have contributed to this growing menace, and how modern medicine has underestimated its danger. She... View Details
Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know®
by Joseph Romm (Author)
"This is, for my money, the best single-source primer on the state of climate change." - New York Magazine
"The right book at the right time: accessible, comprehensive, unflinching, humane." - The Daily Beast
"A must-read." - The Guardian
The essential primer on what will be the defining issue of our time, Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know® is a clear-eyed overview of the science, conflicts, and implications of our warming planet.
From Joseph Romm, Chief Science... View Details
Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know®
by Joseph Romm (Author)
Climate change will have a bigger impact on humanity than the Internet has had. The last decade's spate of superstorms, wildfires, heat waves, and droughts has accelerated the public discourse on this topic and lent credence to climatologist Lonnie Thomson's 2010 statement that climate change "represents a clear and present danger to civilization." In June 2015, the Pope declared that action on climate change is a moral issue.
This book offers the most up-to-date examination of climate change's foundational science, its implications for our future, and the core clean energy solutions.... View Details
Climate: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Mark Maslin (Author)
In this wide-ranging Very Short Introduction to climate, Mark Maslin considers all aspects of the global climate system, exploring and explaining the different components that control climate on Earth. He considers the processes that allow energy to reach the Earth and how it is redistributed around the planet by the ocean-atmosphere system; the relationship and differences between climate and the weather; how climate has affected life on Earth and human settlements; and the cyclic and quasi-cyclic features of climate such as the Milankovitch cycles and El Nino. He concludes by touching on... View Details
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
by Naomi Klein (Author)
The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.
In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.
In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and... View Details
What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action
by Per Espen Stoknes (Author), Jorgen Randers (Foreword)
Why does knowing more mean believing―and doing―less? A prescription for change
The more facts that pile up about global warming, the greater the resistance to them grows, making it harder to enact measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare communities for the inevitable change ahead.
It is a catch-22 that starts, says psychologist and economist Per Espen Stoknes, from an inadequate understanding of the way most humans think, act, and live in the world around them. With dozens of examples―from the private sector to government... View Details
Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet
by Michael Bloomberg (Author), Carl Pope (Author)
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
From Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former head of the Sierra Club Carl Pope comes a manifesto on how the benefits of taking action on climate change are concrete, immediate, and immense. They explore climate change solutions that will make the world healthier and more prosperous, aiming to begin a new type of conversation on the issue that will spur bolder action by cities, businesses, and citizens―and even, someday, by Washington.
"Climate of Hope is an inspiring must read." ―Former Vice President Al Gore, Chairman of... View Details