How even fallen trees help curb global warming

June 28th, 2008 - 4:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 28 (IANS) A 14,000-year-old oak tree has provided evidence that submerged trees store carbon far longer than trees that fall in forests. Researchers came across the tree in Missouri in the US, possibly the oldest discovered in the world, when they were studying the ability of trees to store carbon.

While a tree is alive, it has a great ability to store carbon, thus keeping it out of the atmosphere. When it begins to decay, the carbon is released back into the atmosphere.

Discovering that certain conditions slow this process reveals the importance of proper tree disposal as well as the benefits of riparian forests, or forests through which water flows.

“If a tree falls in a forest, that number is reduced to an average of 20 years. In firewood, carbon is only stored for a year,” said Richard Guyette of Missouri University who led the study.

“Carbon plays a huge role in climate change, and information about where it goes will be very important someday soon,” said Michael C. Stambaugh, a co-author of the study.

Findings of the study have been published in the latest issue of the journal Ecosystems.

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