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CambPlants Hub

A networking organisation for plants-related research and impact
 
michelle guyana

Tropical forests are well-known as crucial global carbon sinks that act by removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in trees, thereby slowing climate change. There are fears that global heating can reduce this storage capacity if tree growth reduces or tree death increases, further accelerating climate change.

With an uncertain climatic future, new research published in Science suggests they can continue to store large amounts of carbon in a warmer world but only if countries limit greenhouse gas emissions. Dr. Michelle Kalamandeen, of the Department of Plant Sciences at University of Cambridge, was part of an international research team that measured over half a million trees in 813 forests across the tropics to assess how much carbon is stored by forests growing under different climatic conditions.

The team revealed that tropical forests are surprisingly resilient to temperature changes but only up to a certain threshold: 32 degrees Celsius in daytime temperature. At a 2°C rise above pre-industrial levels, approximately three-quarters of tropical forests are pushed to this heat threshold. Any further temperature increases will lead to the rapid loss of forest carbon. Maximizing this climate resilience potential means giving forests the time to adapt, and keeps them intact.

Please find the journal article here.

Image credit: Michelle Kalamandeen. Tropical forest landscape in Guyana. 

 

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