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Duke open-air experiment results could deflate hopes that forests can alleviate global warming

is just another indicator of low nitrogen. "If trees don't have a lot of nutrients they grow a lot of roots looking for them," he said.

Meanwhile, some other species in Duke's CO2-bathed forest plots have grown at faster rates than the loblolly pines, scientists report. Still-unpublished data shows 70 percent growth increases for poison ivy, according to Schlesinger.

There is also evidence that the extra carbon dioxide has induced more underlying rock to weather into soil through dissolution by CO2-produced carbonic acid. While that action would also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and "store" the remnants in the added soil, the impact would be "trivial" compared to expectations from boosted tree growth, Schlesinger said.

Based on available evidence from the Duke experiment, "I'd be surprised if the forests of the world will take up more than one-third of the carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions in the year 2050, which is what our experiment simulates," he predicted.


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Contact: Monte Basgall
monte.basgall@duke.edu
919-681-8057
Duke University
15-Feb-2004


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