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Title: Research Priorities for Tropical Ecosystems Under Climate Change Workshop Report, June 4-5, 2012

Abstract

The Tropics, with approximately 40% of Earth’s land surface area, critically regulate many Earth system processes. Containing great stores of biomass, tropical ecosystems represent the largest reservoir of terrestrial carbon. The Tropics also cycle more carbon dioxide (CO 2) and water than any other biome and play important roles in determining Earth’s energy balance, which drives global systems of temperature and precipitation. Overall, wet tropical forests contain about 25% of the carbon in the terrestrial biosphere and account for 34% of Earth’s gross primary production. This vast area, which includes the world’s driest deserts and wettest forests, also harbors a large fraction of Earth’s biodiversity. Despite the negative impact of widespread deforestation, tropical ecosystems continue to benefit Earth’s atmosphere and climate system by mitigating climatic warming through carbon sequestration and evaporative cooling. Of great concern, however, is the vulnerability of tropical ecosystems to rapid shifts resulting from a changing climate. Significant potential thus exists for important feedbacks with CO 2, water, and energy exchange from tropical ecosystems due to climatic change. Tropical forests are thought to be especially vulnerable to climate change compared to other regions of Earth. Unlike in temperate forests where temperatures fluctuate widely during the course ofmore » a year, temperatures in tropical forests (at a given elevation) vary little, with trees adapted to thrive in a relatively narrow thermal range. Hence, the relative impact of climatic warming likely will be greater in the Tropics because predicted changes in temperature are large compared to normal interannual variation. Moreover, increasing atmospheric temperatures may push tropical forests into climate regimes beyond those ever experienced by existing forests. Also, high biomass tropical forests require sufficient moisture to maintain a closed canopy, and changing precipitation patterns such as a shift toward more extreme events and extended droughts potentially could push forests beyond a moisture threshold, causing widespread tree mortality. Catastrophic loss of tropical forests may be a key feedback in tropical ecosystems because widespread tree mortality would release large quantities of CO2 back to the atmosphere, accelerating the influence of this primary driver of global warming. Major disruptions in hydrologic cycles affecting large tropical regions also would be expected.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  2. National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States)
  3. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Republic of Panama)
  4. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  5. Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA (United States)
  6. USDOE Office of Science, Washington, D.C. (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Washington, D.C. (United States). Biological and Environmental Research (BER)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1471591
Report Number(s):
DOE/SC-0153
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Chambers, Jeffrey, Fisher, Rosie, Hall, Jefferson, Norby, Richard J., Wofsy, Steve C., and Stover, Daniel. Research Priorities for Tropical Ecosystems Under Climate Change Workshop Report, June 4-5, 2012. United States: N. p., 2012. Web. doi:10.2172/1471591.
Chambers, Jeffrey, Fisher, Rosie, Hall, Jefferson, Norby, Richard J., Wofsy, Steve C., & Stover, Daniel. Research Priorities for Tropical Ecosystems Under Climate Change Workshop Report, June 4-5, 2012. United States. doi:10.2172/1471591.
Chambers, Jeffrey, Fisher, Rosie, Hall, Jefferson, Norby, Richard J., Wofsy, Steve C., and Stover, Daniel. Wed . "Research Priorities for Tropical Ecosystems Under Climate Change Workshop Report, June 4-5, 2012". United States. doi:10.2172/1471591. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1471591.
@article{osti_1471591,
title = {Research Priorities for Tropical Ecosystems Under Climate Change Workshop Report, June 4-5, 2012},
author = {Chambers, Jeffrey and Fisher, Rosie and Hall, Jefferson and Norby, Richard J. and Wofsy, Steve C. and Stover, Daniel},
abstractNote = {The Tropics, with approximately 40% of Earth’s land surface area, critically regulate many Earth system processes. Containing great stores of biomass, tropical ecosystems represent the largest reservoir of terrestrial carbon. The Tropics also cycle more carbon dioxide (CO2) and water than any other biome and play important roles in determining Earth’s energy balance, which drives global systems of temperature and precipitation. Overall, wet tropical forests contain about 25% of the carbon in the terrestrial biosphere and account for 34% of Earth’s gross primary production. This vast area, which includes the world’s driest deserts and wettest forests, also harbors a large fraction of Earth’s biodiversity. Despite the negative impact of widespread deforestation, tropical ecosystems continue to benefit Earth’s atmosphere and climate system by mitigating climatic warming through carbon sequestration and evaporative cooling. Of great concern, however, is the vulnerability of tropical ecosystems to rapid shifts resulting from a changing climate. Significant potential thus exists for important feedbacks with CO2, water, and energy exchange from tropical ecosystems due to climatic change. Tropical forests are thought to be especially vulnerable to climate change compared to other regions of Earth. Unlike in temperate forests where temperatures fluctuate widely during the course of a year, temperatures in tropical forests (at a given elevation) vary little, with trees adapted to thrive in a relatively narrow thermal range. Hence, the relative impact of climatic warming likely will be greater in the Tropics because predicted changes in temperature are large compared to normal interannual variation. Moreover, increasing atmospheric temperatures may push tropical forests into climate regimes beyond those ever experienced by existing forests. Also, high biomass tropical forests require sufficient moisture to maintain a closed canopy, and changing precipitation patterns such as a shift toward more extreme events and extended droughts potentially could push forests beyond a moisture threshold, causing widespread tree mortality. Catastrophic loss of tropical forests may be a key feedback in tropical ecosystems because widespread tree mortality would release large quantities of CO2 back to the atmosphere, accelerating the influence of this primary driver of global warming. Major disruptions in hydrologic cycles affecting large tropical regions also would be expected.},
doi = {10.2172/1471591},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2012},
month = {10}
}