We’re all in this together: Climate-forest connections mean local tree deaths have widespread impacts

We know that forests can have a big local impact, but can they also have an impact on the climate on the other side of the continent? With climate change becoming a growing threat to our forests, a team of scientists looks to investigate what cross-continental connections exist between our forests and what they could mean for our future climate.

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Scaling up: How forest hydraulic diversity may throw off global climate models

Have you ever wondered how scientists model climate? Climate models are broad scale mathematical representations of atmospheric, oceanic, and land surface processes. Organisms, specifically plants, play an important role in how water, carbon dioxide, and solar energy is used and transformed. In fact, land plants are responsible for taking out an estimated 450 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per year much of which is quickly returned to the atmosphere through respiration and decay. That number gives you an idea of just how important it is to understand plant physiology in order to be able to predict future atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and thus future climate. A recent article in Nature explores how misrepresenting tree water use strategies may throw off climate models.

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Where will the tall trees grow?

What will the landscape look like when the world is four degrees warmer? Seven degrees warmer? Will you see the same trees and shrubs? Will the same birds visit your bird feeder? If you live in a forest now, will you then live in a desert? The implications have wide consequences not least for the production of food and the provision of water for your future self.

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Conserve the Lobster

Caught between a rock and a hard place. The American lobster has become the largest fishery in the United States. American lobster populations are increasing in the Gulf of Maine. However, pressures of climate change and harvest have virtually eliminated the fishery from Southern New England. Work done by Le Bris et al uncover the differences between the two locations and determine that active conservation efforts in the Gulf of Maine have permitted the crustacean to remain even with increased water temperatures and fishing.

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Started from the Bottom: Predicting Risk of Toxin Formation in Wetland Mud

They say that you only live once, but for wild rice plants in the Great Lakes Region, whether or not they live depends on what tiny microbes living deep within the mud are doing. Although small, these microbes can poison the rice plants and have some big impacts, especially for everyone that depends on the food these plants provide.

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Climate change altering wine-making: from landscape to conservation

Our changing climate (Marcott et al., 2013) is at the forefront of global politics and economic planning decisions. There is growing evidence that climate change will affect most fields of study and many professions from agriculture to zoning. One such field that is gaining attention is viticulture, or wine production. A study published in PNAS led by Dr. Hannah and colleagues (2013) looked at how changes in temperature and precipitation will affect global wine production. In addition, the researchers explored how the locations of wine-making regions may shift due to climate stress, and how this might affect conservation.

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Soybean Soybetter

By 2050, the demand for staple food crops, such as potatoes and wheat, is expected to nearly double from what it is today. We could farm all the land in the world, but scientists and others believe this could be detrimental for a multitude of reasons. How can we increase our crop yields without expanding our already limited fields? The answer may lie in cutting out leaves. Taking this approach, Srinivasan and colleagues increased soybean production by up to 8%, that’s approximately 6.5 metric tons per year.

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Reputation (of Conservation Planning): Challenges in the Face of Climate Change

We could make a whole list of habitats to conserve, but which are in red, underlined? Scientists recently tested a number of models incorporating the impacts of climate change to find out what method we should be using for predicting high value conservation areas in the future.

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