CO2 good for Amazon rainforests
They're gobbling up all that increasing CO2
Discussing: Gloor, M. et al. 2009. "Does the disturbance hypothesis explain the biomass increase in basin-wide Amazon forest plot data?" Global Change Biology 15: 2418-2430.
The authors write that "analysis of earlier tropical plot data has suggested that large-scale changes in forest dynamics are currently occurring in Amazonia (Phillips and Gentry, 1994; Phillips et al., 2004), and that an increase in aboveground biomass has occurred, with increases in mortality tending to lag increases in growth (Phillips et al., 1998; Baker et al., 2004a,b; Lewis et al., 2004)." However, they state that this conclusion has recently been challenged by an overzealous application of the "Slow in, Rapid out" dictum, which relates to the fact that forest growth is a slow process, whereas mortality can be dramatic and singular in time, such that sampling over relatively short observation periods may miss these more severe events, leading to positively-biased estimates of aboveground biomass trends, when either no trend or negative trends actually exist.
What was done
Gloor et al. statistically characterize "the disturbance process in Amazon old-growth forests as recorded in 135 forest plots of the RAINFOR network up to 2006, and other independent research programs, and explore the consequences of sampling artifacts using a data-based stochastic simulator."
What was learned
The researchers report that "over the observed range of annual aboveground biomass losses, standard statistical tests show that the distribution of biomass losses through mortality follow an exponential or near-identical Weibull probability distribution and not a power law as assumed by others." In addition, they say that "the simulator was parameterized using both an exponential disturbance probability distribution as well as a mixed exponential-power law distribution to account for potential large-scale blow-down events," and that "in both cases, sampling biases turn out to be too small to explain the gains detected by the extended RAINFOR plot network."
What it means
Gloor et al. conclude that their results lend "further support to the notion that currently observed biomass gains for intact forests across the Amazon are actually occurring over large scales at the current time, presumably as a response to climate change," which in many of their earlier papers is explicitly stated to include the aerial fertilization effect of the historical increase in the air's CO2 content.
More HERE (See the original for links, references etc.)
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