CO2 and trees
Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are increasing every year. Each spring, CO2 concentrations drop as plants in the Northern Hemisphere turn green and begin photosynthesizing. Each fall, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises as plants shut down and soils keep respiring. On top of this annual cycle, each year CO2 concentrations drop a little less than they did the year before and rise a little bit more. Over the past 50 years, CO2 concentrations have been increasing at an accelerating rate. In the 1960’s, the annual increase was less than 1 ppm per year. Over the past... View Expert Column Post »
Grasses were forged for a different world
The future of our grasslands is in doubt. Grasslands are not necessarily imperiled today, but will face only more threats in the future. In the future, I can talk about things like drought and invasive species, but for now I’m going to focus more on carbon dioxide. CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere just passed 400 parts per million (ppm). That’s an amazing number for many of us that remember 350 ppm as not too long ago. Half the people reading this probably were born before it was 320. CO2 concentrations are only likely to go up. Projections vary, but they are likely to... View Expert Column Post »
As a global change scientist, I have learned a lot about grass
I am a global change scientist. I’ll admit we are a bit of a mythical beast. Most people have never met one. We don’t show up on TV or radio much. People assume we are all like Al Gore. Some people like to tell us we are wrong. What’s important (and why I’m writing here) is that global change scientists have learned some interesting things over the years. I, for one, have learned a lot about grass. Everyone who reads this depends on grass for their income in one way or another. Yet, grass still holds mysteries.There are over ten thousand species of grass... View Expert Column Post »
Why carbon dioxide is a threat to grasslands
Grasslands. Grazers. Grass defines them both. If we can keep our land dominated by grass, there should always be a spot for grazers. This is not news. We spend a lot of effort trying to keep out plants that aren’t grass. Weeds get sprayed. Trees are burned or cleared. Grasses have always coexisted with other species, but in our changing world, is grass under threat? Is something changing that can make it harder for grasses to grow and compete against plants that aren’t grasses like broadleaf weeds and trees? As a global change scientist, I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes different... View Expert Column Post »
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