Warm nights could flood the atmosphere with carbon under climate change

December 7, 2015
A study led by Princeton University researchers suggests that hotter nights may wield more influence than previously thought over the planet's atmosphere as global temperatures rise -- and could eventually lead to more carbon flooding the atmosphere. The researchers determined that warm nighttime temperatures, specifically in the tropics, lead plants to release more carbon through a process known as respiration. Average nighttime temperatures in tropical regions such as Manaus, Brazil, (above) have risen by 0.6 degrees Celsius since 1959. Further temperature increases risk turning Earth's land-based carbon-storage capacity, or sink, into a carbon source. Credit: William Anderegg, Princeton Environmental Institute.

The warming effects of climate change usually conjure up ideas of parched and barren landscapes broiling in a blazing sun, its heat amplified by greenhouse gases. But a study led by Princeton University researchers suggests that hotter nights may actually wield much greater influence over the planet's atmosphere as global temperatures rise—and could eventually lead to more carbon flooding the atmosphere.

Since measurements began in 1959, nighttime temperatures in the tropics have had a strong influence over year-to-year shifts in the land's carbon-storage capacity, or "sink," the researchers report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Earth's ecosystems absorb about a quarter of carbon from the atmosphere, and tropical forests account for about one-third of land-based plant productivity.

During the past 50 years, the land-based 's "interannual variability" has grown by 50 to 100 percent, the researchers found. The researchers used climate- and satellite-imaging data to determine which of various climate factors—including rainfall, drought and —had the most effect on the carbon sink's swings. They found the strongest association with variations in tropical nighttime temperatures, which have risen by about 0.6 degrees Celsius (33 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1959.

First author William Anderegg, an associate research scholar in the Princeton Environmental Institute, explained that he and his colleagues determined that warm nighttime temperatures lead plants to put more carbon into the atmosphere through a process known as respiration.

Just as warm nights make people more active, so too does it for plants. Although plants take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they also internally consume sugars to stay alive. That process, known as respiration, produces carbon dioxide, which plants step up in warm weather, Anderegg said. The researchers found that yearly variations in the carbon sink strongly correlated with variations in .

"When you heat up a system, biological processes tend to increase," Anderegg said. "At hotter temperatures, plant respiration rates go up and this is what's happening during hot nights. Plants lose a lot more carbon than they would during cooler nights."

Previous research has shown that nighttime temperatures have risen significantly faster as a result of climate change than daytime temperatures, Anderegg said. This means that in future climate scenarios respiration rates could increase to the point that the land is putting more carbon into the atmosphere than it's taking out of it, "which would be disastrous," he said.

Of course, plants consume as a part of photosynthesis, during which they convert sunlight into energy. While photosynthesis also is sensitive to rises in temperature, it only happens during the day, whereas respiration occurs at all hours and thus is more sensitive to nighttime warming, Anderegg said.

"Nighttime temperatures have been increasing faster than daytime temperatures and will continue to rise faster," Anderegg said. "This suggests that tropical ecosystems might be more vulnerable to than previously thought, risking crossing the threshold from a carbon sink to a source. But there's certainly potential for to acclimate their respiration rates and that's an area that needs future study."

Explore further: Research shows the response of the carbon cycle to climate change

More information: William R. L. Anderegg, Ashley P. Ballantyne, W. Kolby Smith, Joseph Majkut, Sam Rabin, Claudie Beaulieu, Richard Birdsey, John P. Dunne, Richard A. Houghton, Ranga B. Myneni, Yude Pan, Jorge L. Sarmiento,? Nathan Serota, Elena Shevliakova, Pieter Tan and Stephen W. Pacala. " Tropical nighttime warming as a dominant driver of variability in the terrestrial carbon sink." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online in-advance of print Dec. 7 2015. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1521479112

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Shootist
1.9 / 5 (14) Dec 07, 2015
Warm nights could flood the atmosphere with carbon under climate change


I see the sky is still falling.

"Generally speaking, I'm much more of a conformist, but it happens I have strong views about climate because I think the majority is badly wrong, and you have to make sure if the majority is saying something that they're not talking nonsense." - Freeman Dyson.

When Freeman Dyson calls your science rubbish, it probably is.
leetennant
4.6 / 5 (20) Dec 07, 2015
Who needs science when you can spend your life copying and pasting decontextualised quotes from someone who isn't a climate scientist?

But onto the article itself, hopefully this kind of research puts the "plant food" argument to rest, If plant respiration turns forests into a carbon source rather than a carbon sink we really are fucked.

howhot2
4.3 / 5 (12) Dec 07, 2015
There are so many feedback mechanisms initiated with each 0.1C increase from greenhouse CO2. The massive release of methane from bogs, tundra and permafrost is one feedback. In this article we now see that global warming effects how well the forests of the world can hold and capture CO2 at night. Same with the rubbish pile that is the shootist brain. It just rots emitting CO2, methane and other toxic waste for no good purpose.

wsnell8
4.8 / 5 (4) Dec 07, 2015
If all of the carbon that plants gain, they get from the atmosphere, and convert to cellulose, wood and sugars, then how could they actually give up more than they take in? Just wondering.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (11) Dec 07, 2015
Well, a tree tax must be in the offing. Of course the proceeds should be used for tree R & D to create "greener" trees. Tax credits could be offered to loggers/ranchers to cut down trees to prevent this calamity. We should prosecute the terrorist organization The Arbor Day Foundation for it's continued tree planting exploits and purposeful destruction of the planet.
jljenkins
5 / 5 (7) Dec 07, 2015
If you have any doubt that PO cultivates the trolling on stories, note how easily they deal with the idiots in the forum. https://www.physi....846425/

I'm not always against CO2 production from energy sources. I would really love to render cantthink for his body fat and burn that for a while. No doubt it would be the first time he was ever useful. As heat of course. No doubt he would burn too dim for lighting.
jljenkins
4.6 / 5 (11) Dec 07, 2015
Shootist -1.7 /5 (6) 5 hours ago

When Freeman Dyson calls your science rubbish, it probably is.


Gawd, get a room already. Do you have a thing for kooky old men?

Get it straight, idiot.
1). He has never questioned the science. He personally doesn't like the tone. Quit making up lies and sticking them in his mouth. Oh, right. That's exactly what you fantasize about isn't it?
2). He's not that bright. His work in nuclear reactor design was very limited.
3). He's totally senile. He hasn't said anything worthwhile in years.

Sorry to wake you from your wet dream, but you have a serious gerontophilia issue. Keep it out of this discussion. There are websites where you can indulge that and shove anything you want down an senile old coot's mouth.
cantdrive85
1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 07, 2015
If you have any doubt that PO cultivates the trolling on stories, note how easily they deal with the idiots in the forum. https://www.physi....846425/


The modern internet version of this;
https://www.youtu...j4c7Bop0
tblakely1357
1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 08, 2015
Global Warming, is there anything it can't do? It's amazing on how many different ways Global Warming is going to kill us. You'd think that there would be be at least one benefit of a warming climate but apparently not. Just doom and disaster.

It seems every age has prophets of doom.
leetennant
4.7 / 5 (12) Dec 08, 2015
Global Warming, is there anything it can't do? It's amazing on how many different ways Global Warming is going to kill us. You'd think that there would be be at least one benefit of a warming climate but apparently not. Just doom and disaster.

It seems every age has prophets of doom.


I know. Who would have thought changing the climate to one in which human beings did not evolve and cannot survive would only be a bad thing? #headdesk
SkyLy
1 / 5 (5) Dec 08, 2015
Hi, i have developed a theory in my thesis on the possibility to counter the climate change really easily. We'd just have to make an alliance between Bosch and Seb and make a giant freezer. Then, we'd just put the water inside the fridge, let it freeze, and put it back in the sea. Since fusion is endothermic, the climate would change by 6.02 kJ/mol of water put back to sea. Easy as pie, but our government won't listen to me despite all the letters i've sent. If anyone here is a journalist, contact me.
antigoracle
2 / 5 (8) Dec 08, 2015
Who needs science when you can spend your life copying and pasting decontextualised quotes from someone who isn't a climate scientist?

But onto the article itself, hopefully this kind of research puts the "plant food" argument to rest, If plant respiration turns forests into a carbon source rather than a carbon sink we really are fucked.


Do you hold your breath when you post?
You take stupid to levels that's beyond comprehension.
gkam
3 / 5 (8) Dec 08, 2015
"It seems every age has prophets of doom."
--------------------------------------
Did YOU fall for "WMD!!"??
cantdrive85
1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 08, 2015
"It seems every age has prophets of doom."
--------------------------------------
Did YOU fall for "WMD!!"??

Did you fall for "9/11!!"?? Did you fall for that Hopey/Changey bullshit and vote for OBAMA! bin laden?
Most certainly you did!
gkam
2.5 / 5 (8) Dec 08, 2015
The bin Laden family are long-term friends of the Bush Family. That is why they got flown out of the Unite States specially while we were all grounded by Dubya out of panic, after his Criminal Negligence on 9/11.
cantdrive85
1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 08, 2015
The Bushs have a long family history of treason/crime against our country, from Prescott's association with the Nazi's to GHW attempted assassination of Reagan to Jeb's fleecing of savings and loans to GW's implicit actions of 9/11.
It's remarkable how a criminal family can operate at the highest levels, then again the criminal Clintons seem to be doing their part as well. It's just grand that Amerikan "royalty" is little more than a criminal enterprise.
Zzzzzzzz
5 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2015
Well, a tree tax must be in the offing. Of course the proceeds should be used for tree R & D to create "greener" trees. Tax credits could be offered to loggers/ranchers to cut down trees to prevent this calamity. We should prosecute the terrorist organization The Arbor Day Foundation for it's continued tree planting exploits and purposeful destruction of the planet.

How about a dumb phark tax instead? Reach for your wallet, ice hole.....
cantdrive85
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 08, 2015
Well, a tree tax must be in the offing. Of course the proceeds should be used for tree R & D to create "greener" trees. Tax credits could be offered to loggers/ranchers to cut down trees to prevent this calamity. We should prosecute the terrorist organization The Arbor Day Foundation for it's continued tree planting exploits and purposeful destruction of the planet.

How about a dumb phark tax instead? Reach for your wallet, ice hole.....

Can you say 16th Amendment? Federal Reserve? IRS? The "dumb phark" tax is alive and well and they're balls deep in all our ice holes. Unfortunately in lieu of the great leadership we had during the Revolutionary Period we get complicit criminal families. Amerika is doomed to a fascist dictatorial future.
gkam
2 / 5 (8) Dec 08, 2015
CD85, at last we agree.
krundoloss
1.7 / 5 (3) Dec 08, 2015
Man, you guys are all over the place. Talk about plant respiration, please. Climate change is real, it has happened and it will happen again. Yes we should reduce our pollution, and take reasonable action. But it will get worse before it gets better. Move to higher ground and get an air conditioner.
back50
5 / 5 (3) Dec 08, 2015
A temperature of .6 degrees C is about 33 degrees F, but a temperature increase of .6 degrees C is about 1 degree F.
howhot2
5 / 5 (4) Dec 09, 2015
From the article;
"When you heat up a system, biological processes tend to increase," Anderegg said. "At hotter temperatures, plant respiration rates go up and this is what's happening during hot nights. Plants lose a lot more carbon than they would during cooler nights."

Globally, several places have hit record high night temperatures. It's all part of man made global warming cooking the rocky stew that we call planet earth.

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