Abstracts on Global Climate Change

Jun 2007

Dominant factors controlling glacial and interglacial variations in the treeline elevation in tropical Africa

Wu, HB Guiot, J Brewer, S Guo, ZT Peng, CH


The knowledge of tropical palaeoclimates is crucial for understanding global climate change, because it is a test bench for general circulation models that are ultimately used to predict future global warming. A longstanding issue concerning the last glacial maximum in the tropics is the discrepancy between the decrease in sea-surface temperatures reconstructed from marine proxies and the high-elevation decrease in land temperatures estimated from indicators of treeline elevation. In this study, an improved inverse vegetation modeling approach is used to quantitatively reconstruct palaeoclimate and to estimate the effects of different factors (temperature, precipitation, and atmospheric CO2 concentration) on changes in treeline elevation based on a set of pollen data covering an altitudinal range from 100 to 3,140 m above sea level in Africa. We show that lowering of the African treeline during the last glacial maximum was primarily triggered by regional drying, especially at upper elevations, and was amplified by decreases in atmospheric CO2 concentration and perhaps temperature. This contrasts with scenarios for the Holocene and future climates, in which the increase in treeline elevation will be dominated by temperature. Our results suggest that previous temperature changes inferred from tropical treeline shifts may have been overestimated for low-CO2 glacial periods, because the limiting factors that control changes in treeline elevation differ between glacial and interglacial periods.

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Evidence for carbon sequestration by agricultural liming

Hamilton, SK Kurzman, AL Arango, C Jin, LX Robertson, GP


[1] Agricultural lime can be a source or a sink for CO2, depending on whether reaction occurs with strong acids or carbonic acid. Here we examine the impact of liming on global warming potential by comparing the sum of Ca2+ and Mg2+ to carbonate alkalinity in soil solutions beneath unmanaged vegetation versus limed row crops, and of streams and rivers in agricultural versus forested watersheds, mainly in southern Michigan. Soil solutions sampled by tension indicated that lime can act as either a source or a sink for CO2. However, infiltrating waters tended to indicate net CO2 uptake, as did tile drainage waters and streams draining agricultural watersheds. As nitrate concentrations increased in infiltrating waters, lime switched from a net CO2 sink to a source, implying nitrification as a major acidifying process. Dissolution of lime may sequester CO2 equal to roughly 25 - 50% of its C content, in contrast to the prevailing assumption that all of the carbon in lime becomes CO2. The similar to 30 Tg/yr of agricultural lime applied in the United States could thus sequester up to 1.9 TgC/ yr, about 15% of the annual change in the U. S. CO2 emissions (12 Tg C/yr for 2002 - 2003). The implications of liming for atmospheric CO2 stabilization should be considered in strategies to mitigate global climate change.

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