Once thought to be a line of defense against climate change because of their ability to store carbon, trees are instead growing fast and dying young and won’t store as much greenhouse gas over their lifespans according to research published Wednesday.
Plants and trees flourish in warmer climates, but trees that grow faster during their first 25 years tend to die much sooner than slow-growing trees found in harsh, cold conditions according to the study published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
The findings point to a warming Earth where trees will continue to grow at accelerated rates, but the amount of carbon they will be able to store will shrink. This will have devastating consequences for carbon cycle dynamics and what amount of carbon dioxide can be pulled out of the atmosphere.
Study author Ulf Büntgen from Cambridge University’s geography department says the fast-growing response to a warmer climate is similar to how animals with a quick heart rate tend to grow faster but have shorter lives on average. [Read more…]