Rule reveals CO2 emissions of plant life

Jan 26, 2006

Minnesota researchers have found a universal rule regulating plant metabolism that may also offer a key to calculating plants' carbon dioxide emissions.

Peter Reich, a professor of forest resources at the University of Minnesota, said scientists need to know precisely how much carbon dioxide plants release before they can construct models of global carbon dioxide cycling.

Reich and colleagues say they've determined plant emissions can be deduced from their nitrogen content. The study also reveals the respiration, or metabolic, rates of plants and animals follow different laws of scaling with respect to body size.

The researchers found the larger an animal, the slower its metabolism on a per-weight basis. In contrast, when Reich and his colleagues studied 500 plants from 43 species, they found that within a wide range of plant sizes, a quadrupling of weight leads to a quadrupling of respiration rates.

The important variable was nitrogen content: The more nitrogen in a plant, the more it respired and the more carbon dioxide the plant emitted.

The research is detailed in the Jan. 26 issue of the journal Nature.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: China's reform of R&D budget management doesn't go far enough, research shows

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A salty, martian meteorite offers clues to habitability

14 hours ago

Life as we know it requires energy of some sort to survive and thrive. For plants, that source of energy is the Sun. But there are some microbes that can survive using energy from chemical reactions. Some ...

Cutting emissions pays for itself, research shows

Aug 24, 2014

Lower rates of asthma and other health problems are frequently cited as benefits of policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions from sources like power plants and vehicles, because these policies also lead ...

Coal gas boom in China holds climate change risks

Aug 22, 2014

Deep in the hilly grasslands of remote Inner Mongolia, twin smoke stacks rise more than 200 feet into the sky, their steam and sulfur billowing over herds of sheep and cattle. Both day and night, the rumble ...

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

20 hours ago

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

User comments : 0