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Climate change doubles tundra plant life, boosting shrubs, grasses

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NickB79 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 12:32 PM
Original message
Climate change doubles tundra plant life, boosting shrubs, grasses
http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/...

"Henry says the total amount of plant material above the ground has doubled. In wetlands, that mass is at least three times what it was in the early 1980s. Plants that barely reached researchers' ankles now tickle their shins.

Below ground in wetland areas, researchers found 10 times as much biomass."

snip

"And if that is the case, Henry said the new, denser, shrubbier tundra could speed up global warming even further simply because that vegetation is darker and absorbs more solar energy. Previous studies have suggested that a global spread of thicker plant growth on the tundra could have the same effect as doubling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."


This is a cross-post from LBN. I thought I'd post it here since that thread has been swamped with deniers, predictably.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 12:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. Certainly it would absorb more sunlight than an ice cap would
but it will also sequester carbon and release oxygen.

It doesn't sound like all bad news to me. In fact, it might be very good news, the planet's attempt to pull C02 out of the atmosphere and into a plant layer in an area that doesn't tend to burn over and re release it.
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patrice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 01:38 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. That's what I was thinking.
With one exception: Does it re-release the CO2 if it decays? More plants = more decay and more decay = more CO2 release?
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. In the arctic, not so much
In wetlands, it's likelier to form mats like the ones we're mining as coal seams today.
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NickB79 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 03:00 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. The question is: do the plants absorb more CO2 than is released by melthing permafrost?
Because there is enough carbon in the permafrost to double global CO2 concentrations if it were all released.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 04:43 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. The problem with melting permafrost isn't CO2 release.
It's methane release, and methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas.

If the Siberian permafrost goes, we all go.
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Nihil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-24-09 05:10 AM
Response to Original message
6. And this is a big part of the problem ...
> This is a cross-post from LBN. I thought I'd post it here since that
> thread has been swamped with deniers, predictably.

If the "Late Breaking News" forum is filled with such morons, what chance
do we have at waking up anyone who operates at a "Lounge" or "General
Discussion (of celebrities & repetitive crap)" level?

:shrug:

And *that* is before even contemplating the "Fox News" part of the population ...
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