A greenhouse in order to study the impact of climate change on plants

October 02, 2007

The University of Navarra has installed a thermal gradient greenhouse in order to study the impact of climate change on plants. This is a pioneering methodology for studying the simultaneous effect of increased CO2 and ambient temperature. The research project, which will be undertaken by researchers from the area of Plant Biology of the University, could become a reference for later scientific studies in this area.

These studies, financed by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, the University Foundation of Navarra and the Foundation Caja Navarra, have already obtained their first results. "We have discovered that plants respond to enrichment of atmospheric CO2 with increased growth. This will imply an increase in the productivity of food crops and of plant growth in general," explained Prof. Juan José Irigoyen, leader of the research project.

Nevertheless, after prolonged growth in an environment with increased CO2, plants become acclimatized and throttle back their growth. This could be due to the fact that in the new conditions produced by climate change, limiting factors appear which reduce plant growth, such as the availability of nutrients in the soil. In addition, the changes in other parameters associated with an increase in CO2 and with climate change in general, such as an increase in temperature and a reduction in rainfall, can reduce or even eliminate these beneficial effects.

Studies in forage crops, rapeseed and grapevines

The research team is made up of the professors Juan José Irigoyen and Manuel Sánchez-Díaz, of the University of Navarra; Fermín Morales, of the Spanish High Council of Scientific Research; the doctoral student Álvaro Sanz and the research technicians Amadeo Urdiáin and Mónica Oyarzun. Up to now, the team has focused its studies on forage crops such as alfalfa. These species can grow in nitrogen-poor soils; this element, when added to the soil as a fertilizer, contributes to the greenhouse effect and to pollution. However, the team is currently looking to expand its research area to other crops, such as rapeseed and grapevines.

In the case of climate change, induced in large part by the increase in atmospheric CO2, the team has undertaken studies in controlled conditions, with cameras to record growth, and currently with thermal gradient greenhouses, which permit undertaking studies on specific types of climate change. These are facilities that are similar to greenhouses, but which permit us to simulate an environment with increased CO2 and a simultaneous increase in temperature. According to this professor, "the conclusions will contribute to understand the response of plants to this kind of climate change, as well as to propose cultivation strategies for these plants which will help farmers to adjust to the new climate conditions.
-end-


Elhuyar Fundazioa

Related Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.