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In Extreme Heat, Trees Stop Sucking Carbon From the Air

In Extreme Heat, Trees Stop Sucking Carbon From the Air 86

Carbon Capture

Researchers in Australia have made a strange new observation about how trees respond to extreme temperatures. After observing trees in the country for a full year, scientists from the University of Western Sydney’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment found that, in extreme heat, leaves “sweat” to survive.

Until now, it was believed that photosynthesis and transpiration (the process of water release) couldn’t occur without each other. The new study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, showed that during extreme heatwaves trees temporarily stop capturing carbon — even as they continue to release water through their leaves. The “sweating” action helps to keep trees cool, but the observations regarding carbon capture have raised concerns about what will happen as global warming progresses.

Trees were found to "sweat" in response to extreme heat. Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay
Trees were found to “sweat” in response to extreme heat. Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

If current predictions hold true, these extreme heat events will only become more frequent and more severe. Prof Mark Tjoelker, an author on the study from the University of Western Sydney’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, told the Guardian that “If heatwaves occur over a large surface area. . .clearly, the trees and native forests in that area would take up less carbon. And if there is an increased frequency of heatwaves that obviously impacts their ability to serve as carbon sinks.”

The question is, do these findings mean it’s conceivable that trees might stop capturing carbon altogether?

Climate-Affected Trees

For the study, researchers planted a dozen “whole-tree capsules” with seedlings at two locations: the Hawkesbury forest and a site in Yarramundi, near Sydney. The pods were climate and temperature-controlled which gave the researchers the ability to control all the variables.

For half the capsules, the researchers simulated an environment for them to grow in where the average temperature had risen 3 degrees centigrade. This would model what far-future temperatures could be like if climate change is not curbed. Looking at all the trees in the study, they simulated several “heat waves” to see how they would cope. The trees grown in warmer temps didn’t necessarily fare any better than the ones that hadn’t. “It didn’t matter whether the trees were grown under current climate conditions or the 3C increase of the future,” Tjoelker told the Guardian,” they responded equally well.”

Trees are known to respond to stress in a number of ways, and it seems that “sweating” may be just one example. Often times, that stress comes from human activity: nearby traffic to accidental injuries from lawn mowers, this stress can change a tree’s appearance and slow its growth.

Further studies will need to be conducted using other tree species to see if this coping mechanism holds true for more than just the species in Australia. If so, it could spell trouble for humans. Trees are an important part of our ability to survive on planet Earth. Aside from carbon emissions, when we exhale carbon dioxide, trees capture it and convert it into oxygen.

Without major steps to slow climate change, extreme heatwaves and heat events will only become more frequent and intense. If trees begin to capture less carbon or stop capturing carbon altogether, the impact it could have on the human species, as well as the other organisms on Earth which depend on oxygen, could be profound.

For now, more studies are needed to help researchers better understand the process of “tree sweating” and whether or not it’s possible that trees could one day stop capturing carbon. If that’s the case, though, perhaps the research will also reveal it’s possible (and necessary) to genetically engineer trees to ensure their — and our — continued survival.

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Planet Earth

Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 87

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 88

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 89

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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