Trees and Climate Change

Trees are growing rapidly due to climate change. This sounds like good news. Afterall, this means that trees are storing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in their wood and hence taking away the key ingredient in global warming. But is it that simple? A team analyzed samples from the oldest experimental  areas spanning a period of 50 years an reached a surprising conclusion.

The wood samples come from the oldest experimental forest plots in Europe which were created at the same time the technical University of Munich was founded 150 years ago. The samples were taken from common European tree species such as spruces, pines, beeches and oaks.

 Withe the combination of wood samples from the 1870s to the present day coupled with the lates measurement technology, the team at the School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan were able to demonstrate that the annually growing wood has gradually become lighter since observations began: by upto eight to twelve percent since 1900. Within the same period, the volume growth of trees in Central Europe has accelerated by 29 to 100 percent.

Lighter wood is less solid and has less calorific value. This is crucial for application scenarios ranging from wood construction to energy production. Less solid wood in living trees also increases the risk of damage events such as breakage due to wind and snow in forests

 

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