backtop


Print 78 comment(s) - last by mindless1.. on Jan 25 at 4:23 PM

For all we know, Al Bundy's socks may be the cure for the global climate crisis.

Will the war for global warming ever be won? That depends on the amount of information we can harvest, analyze and extrapolate from. In all likelihood, the only way we will know for certain if the Earth is heading for a global warming disaster is by waiting another few thousand years and looking at history books.

But, for those not comfortable with the wait and see approach, scientists continue to plunge into one of the crucial factors thought to govern global (I’m trying not to snicker) climate change, the global carbon sink system. Roughly composed of just about every living and even more dead things, these parts of local, regional and whole-Earth ecosystems are under high scrutiny as researchers try to understand how present day climate change will further affect future climate change. The popular idea seems to be that global warming is like a snowball rolling downhill – as it rolls it picks up more snow and eventually hits something and explodes. Exploding is bad for the Earth, honest.

From the University of Colorado at Boulder comes a study supporting the theory that extended growing seasons may not be the boon for the carbon sink that many have previously thought. At least not for subalpine conifers such as the lodgepole pine, subalpine fir and Englemann spruce. It turns out these trees depend much more upon snowmelt for their summer water fix than rainfall, and in years where spring comes early due to mild winters and low snowfall, the trees actually take in less carbon dioxide over the year than when spring arrives late with heavy snow still on the ground. Up to 60% of their internal water supply from stems and needles was identified to be from spring snowmelt rather than rainfall in the fall months. We can thank our friends the hydrogen and oxygen atoms for this precise identification work.

Since around 70% of the western USA’s carbon sink is found in these subalpine forest ranges, watching the snow caps shrink yearly would definitely affect their ability to operate to capacity, should this study be accurate. Facts don’t lie; snow good, carbon dioxide bad.

On a somewhat brighter note, according to researchers at the National Oceanographic Center, Southampton, another very large and poorly understood carbon sink may be completely underestimated in present carbon cycle models. Echinoderms, which comprise a vast portion of the ocean’s calcium carbonate dump, may sequester much more carbon yearly than previously thought.

Echinoderms suck in carbon from seawater to form their skeletal systems and include such happy marine animals as star fish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. When these animals find the end of their lifecycle, they typically sink to the ocean floor with their captured carbon and become indefinitely buried in the sediments. Some of the calcium carbonate finds its way back up the “biological carbon pump,” but probably much less than is taken down to the depths.

This could mean that the ocean is once again showing itself to be far more excellent at helping regulate global carbon levels, or it could just mean scientists still don’t really understand what’s going on in there.

If these studies only prove one thing it is that we, as a global community, race, organism and observer still have very little understanding in the way all of our ecosystems work together to regulate the Earth’s climate. It’s far too early for any sane person to jump on the “we’re melting, melting” or “Minnesota never left the ice age, what’s your problem” camps. There simply aren’t enough data to concretely support any given theory with certainty and these kinds of discoveries are shining examples of why.


Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: The World is Too Big
By TheEinstein on 1/13/2010 8:48:23 PM , Rating: 2
What are you on?

I mentioned yield on purpose.

A Douglas Fir is a great example.

Take a group of firs in a forest. Say that over 20 years 1/2 die due to fire, infestation, and rot. The other half still grow to be 30 odd feet high at minimum.

Your therefore missing a critical element right there.

The number of plants is a variable we will have a hard time calculating properly, as is the changing size of said plants, the yield of the plants, the changing sequestering of said plants, and of the strength of the plants in how much conversion they will do.

We also omit natural selection, aka some plants will do better than others, in this entire process.

Your argument has many wrong falacies in it. In Ethopia they have families based upon the ability to support the families. The same in many other nations. My sister here in the United States has chosen to have a 3rd child due to her ability to afford the third child. Free market conditions rely upon resources that are not running out, which I also say with a 200 year (for the whole world) supply of oil known to exist, we can look at this as probably not an issue over the next 200 years (since science is progressing) and beyond. No resources, when broken to base types, is truly running out, but there is a limited supply available perhaps, and this is an element of the free market.

Therefore that portion of your argument is also null and void. Consider my words well, for they are statistically and mathematically sound.


RE: The World is Too Big
By Smilin on 1/14/2010 10:21:08 AM , Rating: 2
I think you're missing the forest for the trees.

quote:

Therefore that portion of your argument is also null and void. Consider my words well, for they are statistically and mathematically sound.


Sir I think your words are completely unsound and I think the first uncivil words you've used with me really apply to you: "what are you on?"

I don't buy your argument on Ethiopia, and the pretty much useless anecdote regarding your sister's 3rd child. The popupulation of the world has grown by 4 BILLION since 1950 so X is most definately growing.

Comparing a satellite shot of South America in 1970 to one today also makes it very obvious that clearcutting alone is enough to decrease Y. You will not find enough positive growth on the globe to offset such changes.

Your previous arguments have been both polite and strong. This one seems so far out that I'm wondering if you replied to the correct post.


"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki