Study: Amazon trees older than believed

December 13, 2005

A University of California-Irvine scientist says many trees in the Amazon tropical forests are much older than previously believed.

A team of American and Brazilian researchers are using radiocarbon dating to study tree growth in the world's largest tropical region.

The team, including UC-Irvine's Susan Trumbore, found as many as half of all trees greater than four inches (10 centimeters) in diameter are more than 300 years old. Some of the trees, Trumbore said, are as much as 750 to 1,000 years old.

Trumbore, a professor of Earth system science, said since the trees are old and slow-growing, the Amazon forests, which contain about a third of all carbon found in land vegetation, might have less capacity to absorb atmospheric carbon than previous thought.

"In the Central Amazon, where we found the slowest growing trees, the rates of carbon uptake are roughly half what is predicted by current global carbon cycle models," Trumbore said. "As a result, those models ... may be overestimating the forests' capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere."

Study results appear in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Tallest trees could die of thirst in rainforest droughts, study finds

Related Stories

Seven case studies in carbon and climate

November 13, 2015

Every part of the mosaic of Earth's surface—ocean and land, Arctic and tropics, forest and grassland—absorbs and releases carbon in a different way. Wild-card events such as massive wildfires and drought complicate the ...

A breathing planet, off balance

November 13, 2015

Earth's oceans and land cover are doing us a favor. As people burn fossil fuels and clear forests, only half of the carbon dioxide released stays in the atmosphere, warming and altering Earth's climate. The other half is ...

Recommended for you

'Material universe' yields surprising new particle

November 25, 2015

An international team of researchers has predicted the existence of a new type of particle called the type-II Weyl fermion in metallic materials. When subjected to a magnetic field, the materials containing the particle act ...

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.