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CO2 Is Greening The Planet: African Savannahs Getting a Makeover to Forests
watts Up With That? ^ | July 2, 2012 | Anthony Watts

Posted on 07/02/2012 11:49:58 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach

Posted on by

Umbrella Thorn Acacia, Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya Photographic Print

Umbrella Thorn Acacia, Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
by Adam Jones – click to order a photo or poster

I’ve covered this before, such as when NASA posted satellite data showing that the biosphere is booming thanks to CO2 fertilization. This new study from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany suggests that the Umbrella Thorn Acacia trees will make a comeback.

Tree trumps grass to rule the savannas

A new study published today in “Nature” by authors from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the Goethe University Frankfurt suggests that large parts of Africa’s savannas may well be forests by 2100. The study suggests that fertilization by atmospheric carbon dioxide is forcing increases in tree cover throughout Africa. A switch from savanna to forest occurs once a critical threshold of CO2 concentration is exceeded, yet each site has its own critical threshold. The implication is that each savanna will switch at different points in time, thereby reducing the risk that a synchronous shock to the earth system will emanate from savannas.

Tropical grasslands, savannas and forests, areas the authors call the savanna complex, are expected to respond sensitively to climate and atmospheric changes. This is because the main players, grasses and trees, differ fundamentally in their response to temperature, carbon dioxide supply and fire and are in an unrelenting struggle for the dominance of the savanna complex. The outcome of this struggle determines whether vast portions of the globe’s tropical and sub-tropical regions are covered with grasslands, savannas or forests. In the past such shifts in dominance have played out in slow motion, but the current wave of atmospheric changes has accelerated the potential rate of change.

Experimental studies have generally shown that plants do not show a large response to CO2 fertilization. “However, most of these studies were conducted in northern ecosystems or on commercially important species” explains Steven Higgins, lead author of the study from the Biodiodversity and Climate Reseach Centre and Goethe-University. “In fact, only one experimental study has investigated how savanna plants will respond to changing CO2 concentrations and this study showed that savanna trees were essentially CO2 starved under pre-industrial CO2 concentrations, and that their growth really starts taking off at the CO2 concentrations we are currently experiencing.“

The vegetation shifts that the Higgins and Scheiter study projects are an example of what some theorists call catastrophic regime shifts. Such catastrophic regime shifts can be triggered by small changes in the factors that regulate the system. These small changes set up a cascade of events that reinforce each other causing the system to change more and more rapidly. The study demonstrated that the savanna complex showed symptoms of catastrophic regime shifts. “The potential for regime shifts in a vegetation formation that covers such vast areas is what is making earth system scientists turn their attention to savannas” comments Higgins.

Knowing when such regime shifts will occur is critical for anticipating change. This study discovered that locations where the temperature rise associated with climate change occurs rapidly, for example in the center of southern Africa, are projected to switch later to forest as the high rate of temperature increase allows the savanna grasses to remain competitive for longer in the face of rising atmospheric CO2 concentration. This means that even though a single location may experience its catastrophic regime shift, the vegetation change when averaged over a region will be smoother. Such gradual transitions in regional vegetation patterns will reduce the potential for shocks to the earth system. “While this may seem reassuring, we have to bear in mind that these changes are still rapid when viewed on geological time scales”, says Higgins.

The practical implications of the study are far reaching. For example, the study identified a belt that spans northern central Africa where fire suppression would encourage savannas to transition to forests. “So if you wanted to sequester carbon as part of a carbon mitigation action, this is where you should do it” explained Higgins “with the caveat that where this will work is shifting as atmospheric conditions change.” A worrying implication is that the grasslands and open savannas of Africa, areas with unique floras and faunas, are set to be replaced by closed savannas or forests. Hence it appears that atmospheric change represents a major threat to systems that are already threatened by over-grazing, plantation forestry and crop production.

###

Paper:
Steven I. Higgins and Simon Scheiter (2012). Atmospheric CO2 forces abrupt vegetation shifts locally, but not global. Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature11238

download PDF, 116 KB


TOPICS: Conspiracy; Science; Weather
KEYWORDS: climatechange; globalwarming; globalwarminghoax

1 posted on 07/02/2012 11:50:12 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: TigerLikesRooster; landsbaum; Signalman; NormsRevenge; steelyourfaith; Lancey Howard; ...
And the USA is failing to help.....see this related thread:

USA CO2 emissions may drop to 1990 levels this year

2 posted on 07/02/2012 11:53:46 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?)
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To: All
And I thought the greening of the Globe would be a good thing....
3 posted on 07/03/2012 12:02:14 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?)
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To: All
From the comments:

*****************************************EXCERPT***********************************

eqibno says:

July 2, 2012 at 9:22 am

What a dilemma!
More trees due to that evil changing climate…. We can’t have that! We must reduce CO2 so that we keep those lovely grasslands as they are…errr were…errr should be?
My question is: Will the Greens cut down the offending trees in the meantime to give the poor old grass a chance?
They may have to ask industrialists to sustainably harvest the trees (using green methods, of course) to keep the exact number that used to be where they believe it should be….

4 posted on 07/03/2012 12:18:10 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

And NASA just told us that CO2 is a powerful coolant in the upper atmosphere, where it radiates energy from solar flairs back into space, doing what Niels Bohr discovered all those years ago. ...This heat wave may be because we don’t have enough CO2 keeping us cool.


5 posted on 07/03/2012 12:29:57 AM PDT by pallis
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
It goes back a few years Ernest, to what a number of us had said, hoped for, raved about. That being.
A willingness on the part of so many good and honest scientist world wide to have the support of those that hold their pay checks, to stand up and speak out and in due time put a "final" stake into the heart of those that have preached bad science in so many arenas. Of course without a similar action in all the so called western world democracies heads of state, politicians at all levels of government, and the world banks, what a wish..... the crap will continue.
But at least with the world scientific community coming around, and with the INTERNET being as it is, there can be hope the GW/ AGW issues will be no longer a play for those that seek fortunes based upon a ill based premise, in the years to come. Let them all lose big time in their gamble.
Time for me to hit the rack. Do have a great upcoming day.
6 posted on 07/03/2012 12:30:01 AM PDT by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

I recommend the site CO2 Science.


7 posted on 07/03/2012 12:54:46 AM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; ...

Thanks Ernest.


8 posted on 07/03/2012 3:36:28 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

They’ve been telling us for 100 years that human deforestation of Africa was turning it into a desert. And the trees are taking over?


9 posted on 07/03/2012 3:47:33 AM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

“And the Trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw”

- Rush, The Trees, 2112


10 posted on 07/03/2012 4:53:19 AM PDT by representativerepublic (...loose lips, sink ships)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

I thought the rain forests were a good thing, that they consumed co2.


11 posted on 07/03/2012 5:04:46 AM PDT by Daveinyork
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To: SampleMan

“They’ve been telling us for 100 years that human deforestation of Africa was turning it into a desert. And the trees are taking over?”

It was during the ice ages that most of Africa was desert, because all the water was frozen in glaciers.


12 posted on 07/03/2012 5:06:42 AM PDT by Daveinyork
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

What many people (those who remember their geology & geography from school days) were saying 10 years ago:
“A warmer Earth is a wetter Earth; that’s a GOOD thing, not bad!”


13 posted on 07/03/2012 5:20:05 AM PDT by ROLF of the HILL COUNTRY
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To: Daveinyork

Of the water on Earth, a small percentage was locked up in glaciers. Although all that ice (and whatever caused it), certainly changed the climate.

Its curious as to what caused the Holocene Wet Phase(from about 7500–7000 BC to about 3500–3000 BC), that turned the Sahara green. And just as curious as to what ended it.


14 posted on 07/03/2012 5:33:13 AM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

My question is: Will the Greens cut down the offending trees in the meantime to give the poor old grass a chance?

i find it interesting that the only places my lawn is a beautiful green is where they get some sort of shade from my trees.


15 posted on 07/03/2012 5:58:22 AM PDT by Cyclone59 (Obama is like Ron Burgundy - he will read ANYTHING that is on the teleprompter)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

The truth is all the warmists don’t know what will happen if the earth warms appreciably. They all predict disaster, but we know they had an agenda with that forecast. Why would warmer weather cause a huge global disaster given that the earth’s temp has been FIVE TO SIX DEGREES HIGHER!!!! at various times in the past. And we’re still here. We’ve had global temps so high the poles were melted. So if higher temps would have caused a disaster destroying all life as know it, we would have seen evidence of that many times in the global history stretching out billions of years.


16 posted on 07/03/2012 6:07:18 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: SampleMan
"curious as to what ended it"

Most likely camels driving SUVs.

17 posted on 07/03/2012 6:09:43 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: SampleMan

I think I remember seeing on a documentary that during some of the dinasaur ages, the Sahara was a shallow sea.


18 posted on 07/03/2012 6:27:49 AM PDT by Daveinyork
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

This preference for trees is not necessarily a good thing.


19 posted on 07/03/2012 6:36:18 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (The Slave Party: advancing indenture since 1787.)
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To: Daveinyork
“It was during the ice ages that most of Africa was desert, because all the water was frozen in glaciers”

Wrong. I was there at the time and Africa was green then.

20 posted on 07/03/2012 6:39:18 AM PDT by HereInTheHeartland ("The writing is on the wall - Unions are screwed. reformist2 10:04 PM #27")
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To: Carry_Okie

From THE FREE MARKET 10(8):1 (1992 Aug)

Ode to A Dead Tree
Gary North

I think I shall never see
A sight a lovely as a tree;
A tree cut down for pulp
and boards,
Cut down for profit and
rewards.

Whenever forests disappear
To fill a bookstore front
to rear,
The angels sing a glorious
song,
Especially if the books are
long.

When trees grow high above
the earth
I love to estimate their worth.
I praise the chainsaw and
the axe,
Converting trees to paperbacks.
I love to contemplate
bare hills,
Solutions to society’s ills.
For every tree dragged out
by hooks
May soon become a shelf
of books.

When men cry ``Timber!’’
I rejoice,
A perfect use for human voice.
The sound of buzz saws is
symphonic
So long as books remain
dendronic.

I think of trees througout the
ages
Especially as I’m turning
pages:
Majestic trees in ageless mists
Transformed into best-sellers’
lists.

The thought of trees cut down
for wood,
Serving man as nature should.

Down my spine I get the shivers:
ŠGiant forests into slivers!

Forests growing through long
winters;
Spring will see them all in
splinters.
Literate mankind now confesses:
``Cut the trees and start the presses!’’


21 posted on 07/03/2012 12:56:26 PM PDT by Daveinyork
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To: Daveinyork

I have a sign on my wall modeled after the Sailor’s Prayer:

Oh Lord, My Garden Is So Big,
and My Chainsaw Is So Small!


22 posted on 07/03/2012 2:57:26 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (The Slave Party: advancing indenture since 1787.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

savanna trees were essentially CO2 starved


This is true of many plants.


23 posted on 07/03/2012 2:58:58 PM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( (Lord, save me from some conservatives, they don't understand history any better than liberals.))
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

The practical implications of the study are far reaching.


They act like this is new information, learned it 50 years ago in botany classes........................


24 posted on 07/03/2012 3:00:56 PM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( (Lord, save me from some conservatives, they don't understand history any better than liberals.))
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