How do trees change the climate?

I respond to the recent op-ed in the New York Times by explaining what trees do to climate.

On the RealClimate blog now!


Mid-laittude trees and the green Sahara!

Elephant petroglyph .. one of my favourites

Photo by Carsten ten Brink

The UW College of the Environment has issued a press release:

Demystifying lush landscapes of the ancient African Sahara

Which describes a new lab publication in Journal of Climate:

Swann, A.L.S, Fung, I.Y., Liu, Y., Chiang, J.C.H., (2014) Remote vegetation feedbacks and the mid-Holocene Green Sahara., Journal of Climate. 27(13) 4857–4870, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00690.1

 [PDF] [JClim website]


Tree Mortality on the ground


I spent the week in New Mexico with our NSF Macrosystems Forest Mortality and Climate Team (pictured above) measuring dead trees.  And a few live trees too.

The previous week the rest of the group visited a transect of sites in Arizona. I joined them for the week in New Mexico, about an hour and a half north-east from Sevilleta field station.  Our measurements are looking at how energy fluxes between the land and the atmosphere change as forests die.  These previously established sites have been extensively hit by bark beetles, and now are comprised of a large fraction of dead Pinyon Pine.  There was also a site with “simulated” beetle kill (read: chainsaws) that was the motivation for the original experiment.  Here is one of the already existing flux towers with a freshly beetle-killed Pinyon to the left.


The group heads to Alaska next, and then to the Amazon!