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USGS - science for a changing world

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Molly Cavaleri

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Tropical forests contain > 50% of the world’s known species (Heywood 1995), 55% of global forest biomass (Pan et al. 2011), and exchange more carbon (C), water and energy with the atmosphere than any other ecosystem type (e.g., Saugier et al. 2001). Despite their importance, there is more uncertainty associated with predictions of how tropical forests will respond to warming than for any other biome (Randerson et al. 2009). This uncertainty is of global concern due to the large quantity of C cycled by these forests and the high potential for biodiversity loss. Given the importance of tropical forests, decision makers and land managers around the globe need increased predictive capacity regarding how tropical forests...
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Summary Changes in tropical forest carbon sink strength during El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events can indicate future behavior under climate change. Previous studies revealed ˜6 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 lower net ecosystem production (NEP) during ENSO year 1998 compared with non-ENSO year 2000 in a Costa Rican tropical rainforest. We explored environmental drivers of this change and examined the contributions of ecosystem respiration (RE) and gross primary production (GPP) to this weakened carbon sink. For 1998-2000, we estimated RE using chamber-based respiration measurements, and we estimated GPP in two ways: using (1) the canopy process model MAESTRA, and (2) combined eddy covariance and chamber respiration data....
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
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Although tropical forests account for only a fraction of the planet's terrestrial surface, they exchange more carbon dioxide with the atmosphere than any other biome on Earth, and thus play a disproportionate role in the global climate. In the next 20 years, the tropics will experience unprecedented warming, yet there is exceedingly high uncertainty about their potential responses to this imminent climatic change. Here, we prioritize research approaches given both funding and logistical constraints in order to resolve major uncertainties about how tropical forests function and also to improve predictive capacity of earth system models. We investigate overall model uncertainty of tropical latitudes and explore the...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
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