The Biology Department welcomes Professor Pam Templer, PhD to speak about “Imagining Future Forests Through Climate Change Experiments”
Friday, September 30 @ 1:10pm in Thompson Biology 112 (masks are required)
Carbon dioxide uptake by terrestrial ecosystems around the globe offsets approximately one third of emissions of this greenhouse gas from human activities like burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, yet this carbon sink may be threatened by climate change. Mean annual air temperatures are projected to increase, while the winter snowpack is expected to shrink in depth and duration for many mid-and high-latitude temperate forest ecosystems over the next several decades. Together, these changes will lead to warmer growing season soil temperatures and an increased frequency of soil freeze-thaw cycles in winter. We utilized our Climate Change Across Seasons Experiment (CCASE) at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, USA to determine how these changes in soil temperature affect multiple biological processes in the northern hardwood forest. We found that warmer growing season temperatures increase rates of tree growth and carbon sequestration, primarily due to greater soil nutrient availability and uptake by trees leading to greater rates of photosynthesis. However, we found that these gains are offset significantly by soil freeze thaw cycles in winter, which damage tree roots, decrease nutrient uptake, and reduce C sequestration in the aboveground biomass of trees.. Together, these results demonstrate that utilizing nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change requires an understanding of how forests may change in the future.