February 28, 2007
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Global Climate Change Digest
A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 9, NUMBER 3, MARCH 1996
IMPACTS OF CO2
"A Meta Analysis of Leaf Gas Exchange and Nitrogen in Trees Grown
Under Elevated Carbon Dioxide," P.S. Curtis (Dept. Plant Biol., Ohio State
Univ., 1735 Neil Ave., Columbus OH 43210), Plant, Cell & Environ.,
19(2), 127-137, Feb. 1996.
This review of studies published through May 1994 and of several unpublished
works, commissioned by the journal, is the first meta analysis of its type and
provides statistical confirmation of several responses of trees to elevated CO2.
It also highlights important areas of continued uncertainty. Overall, net CO2
assimilation showed a large and significant increase at elevated CO2, but length
of CO2 exposure and the exposure facility were important modifiers of this
response. Other responses studied are stomatal conductance, leaf dark
respiration, and leaf nitrogen or specific leaf area in woody plants.
"The Effects of Long-Term Elevation of Air Temperature and CO2 on
Frost Hardiness of Scots Pine," T. Repo (Faculty of Forestry, Univ.
Joensuu, POB 111, FIN-80101 Joensuu, Finland), ibid., 209-216.
Studied 20- to 25-year-old saplings for two years. The risks of frost damage
are marked in the predicted climatic conditions in Finland, and depend on how
the occurrence of the frost episodes changes with respect to climatic warming
during the annual cycle, especially in autumn and spring. Conditions in
mid-winter are not thought to be critical for frost injury to trees in the
"Effects of Elevated CO2, Elevated O3 and Potassium Deficiency on
Norway Spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst.]: Seasonal Changes in
Photosynthesis and Non-Structural Carbohydrate Content," J.D. Barnes (Dept.
Agric. & Environ. Sci., Ridley Bldg,. Univ. Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU,
UK), T. Pfirrmann et al., ibid., 18(12), 1345-1357, Dec. 1995.
Studied two clones of 5-year-old trees exposed for one season (Apr. to Oct.)
in a phytotron that recreated an artificial climate similar to that at a high
elevation site in the Inner Bavarian Forest. Parameters measured included rate
of net CO2 assimilation by needles of various ages, chlorophyll fluorescence
kinetics, and seasonal changes in non-structural carbohydrates. The measured
effects emphasize the need to take into account not only soil nutrient status,
but also the impact of concurrent increases in photochemical oxidant pollution
in any serious consideration of the effects of climate change on plant
"Inter- and Intra-Generic Difference in Growth, Reproduction and
Fitness of Nine Herbaceous Annual Species Grown in Elevated CO2 Environments,"
E.J. Farnsworth (Dept. Organismic & Evolutionary Biol., Harvard Univ.
Herbaria, 22 Divinity Ave., Cambridge MA 02138), F.A. Bazzaz, Oecologia,
104(4), 454-466, 1995.
Studied how CO2 (350 or 700 ppm) affected reproduction and growth of
herbaceous annual plants with various floral morphologies from the genera Polygonum,
Ipomoea, and Cassia. Measured vegetation growth, vegetation
biomass at first flowering, and viability and germination of seeds. These varied
among the genera, but species within genera typically responded more
consistently to CO2 than did unrelated species. Cogeners may respond similarly
in terms of reproductive output under global change, but fitness and prognoses
of population persistence and evolutionary performance can be inferred only
rarely from examining only vegetative characters.
"Seedling Density Modifies the Growth Responses of Yellow Birch
Maternal Families to Elevated Carbon Dioxide," P.M. Wayne (address,
previous entry), F.A. Bazzaz, Global Change Biol., 1(5),
315-324, Oct. 1995.
Studied seedling growth responses to CO2 at 350 and 750 ppm of three
maternal families of Betula alleghaniensis, raised individually and in
high-density stands. Seedlings in competitive, dense stands showed markedly
lower average CO2-induced growth enhancements than individually grown plants.
Maternal families differed in their responses; families showing the greatest
response at low density exhibited the least CO2 responsiveness at high density.
The data are examined in terms of the reliability of estimates of CO2
fertilization potential based solely on individually grown plants, and the
potential evolutionary consequences of rising CO2 on regenerating forest tree
"Simple Carbon Assimilation Response Functions from Atmospheric CO2,
and Daily Temperature and Shortwave Radiation," D.S. Wilks (Dept. Soil,
Crop & Atmos. Sci., Cornell Univ., Ithaca NY 14853), D.W. Wolfe, S.J. Riha,
The approach of using a global CO2 fertilizer effect multiplier in crop or
ecosystem models does not take into account the interactions among CO2,
temperature and light on assimilation. This study used a mechanistic model of
the biochemistry of photosynthesis to represent the responses of net
assimilation to varying parameters. The calculated CO2 fertilizer effect is
greatest at high light levels and warm temperatures. The summary functions
determined are suitable for incorporating into crop or ecosystem models for
predicting carbon assimilation or biomass production on a daily time step.
"Species Diversity and Ecosystem Response to Carbon Dioxide
Fertilization: Conclusions from a Temperate Forest Model," B.M. Bolker
(Dept. Ecol. & Evolutionary Biol., Guyot Hall, Princeton Univ., Princeton NJ
08544), S.W. Pacala et al., ibid., 373-381.
Looked at the dynamics of a model of temperate forest growth under doubled
CO2 by combining a detailed, field-calibrated model of forest dynamics with
greenhouse data on the range of seedling biomass growth response. Although the
model omits many feedbacks and mechanisms associated with climate change, it
suggests the large potential effects that species differences and feedbacks can
have in ecosystem models, and reinforces the possible importance of diversity to
ecosystem function over time scales within the planning horizon for global
"Towards a Better Experimental Basis for Upscaling Plant Responses
to Elevated CO2 and Climate Warming," Ch. Körner (Inst. Botany, Univ.
Basel, CH-4056 Basel, Switz.), Plant, Cell & Environ., 18(10),
1101-1110, Oct. 1995.
Few of the most common assumptions used in modeling plant and ecosystem
responses to elevated CO2 and temperatures have been tested under realistic life
conditions. Identifies unexpected discrepancies between predictions and
experimental findings, which indicate that a better empirical basis is required
for predictions. Offers ten suggestions for improving our ability to scale up
from experimental conditions to the real world.
"Leaf and Canopy Responses to Elevated CO2 in a Pine Forest Under
Free-Air CO2 Enrichment," D.S. Ellsworth (Dept. Applied Sci., Brookhaven
Natl. Lab., Upton NY 11973), R. Oren et al., Oecologia, 104(2),
Studied an intact Pinus taeda forest ecosystem. Leaf net
photosynthetic rate at 550 ppm CO2 was enhanced by about 65% compared to the
rate at ambient CO2 (350 ppm). However, longer-term CO2 responses and feedbacks
remain to be evaluated.
"Increased Growth Efficiency of Quercus alba Trees in a
CO2-Enriched Atmosphere," R.J. Norby (Environ. Sci. Div., Oak Ridge Natl.
Lab., POB 2008, Oak Ridge TN 37831), S.D. Wullschleger et al., New Phytol.,
131(1), 91-97, Sep. 1995.
Experimental observations of small trees in CO2-enriched atmospheres must be
interpreted carefully if they are to be relevant to the potential responses of
forest trees. White oak saplings were grown for four seasons in open top
chambers with different CO2 partial pressures. The saplings produced 58% more
dry mass in 50 Pa CO2 and 135% more in 65 Pa compared with those at ambient (35
pa) CO2. There was not a sustained effect of CO2 on relative growth rate after
the first year, and the increased absolute growth rate could persist only as
long as leaf area could increase. Nevertheless, annual stem wood production per
unit area (growth efficiency) was 37% greater in elevated CO2, a response
consistent across diverse studies, implying a potential increase in carbon
sequestration by forests.
"Terrestrial Higher-Plant Response to Increasing Atmospheric [CO2]
in Relation to the Global Carbon Cycle," J.S. Amthor (Lawrence-Livermore
Natl. Lab., L-256, POB 808, Livermore CA 94550), Global Change Biol.,
1(4), 243-274, Aug. 1995.
This paper, commissioned by the journal, reviews terrestrial plant responses
to CO2 as they relate to fluxes and pools of carbon in terrestrial plants, soils
and the atmosphere. Emphasizes feedbacks on the increase in global CO2 and their
role in the global carbon cycle. Most plant responses to elevated CO2 act as
"The Effects on Arbutus unedo L. of Long-Term Exposure to
Elevated CO2," M.B. Jones (Dept. Botany, Trinity College, Univ. Dublin,
Dublin 2, Ireland), J.C. Brown et al., ibid., 295-302.
This sclerophyllous evergreen has been found close to natural CO2 vents in
Italy where the mean CO2 concentration is 2200 ppm. Compared trees growing in
elevated and ambient CO2 concentrations to test for evidence of adaptation.
Looked at stomatal density, stomatal conductance in different seasons, and
chlorophyll fluorescence. Since analysis of A/Ci curves showed no
evidence of upward or downward regulation of photosynthesis at elevated CO2,
A. unedo is expected to have higher growth rates as ambient CO2
"Soil and Biomass Carbon Pools in Model Communities of Tropical
Plants Under Elevated CO2," J.A. Arnone III (Dept. Botany, Univ. Basel, Schönbeinstr.
6, CH-4056 Basel, Switz), Ch. Körner, Oecologia, 104(1),
Reports experiments conducted in greenhouses with somewhat nutrient-limited
model communities of moist tropical plant species. Finds that: enormous amounts
of carbon can be deposited in the ground that are not normally accounted for in
estimates of net primary productivity and net ecosystem productivity; any
enhancement of carbon sequestration under elevated CO2 may be substantially
smaller than is currently believed; species dominance in plant communities is
likely to change under elevated CO2, but changes may be slow.
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Index of Abbreviations