Conifer Trees in a Warming World
The Earth's climate has changed throughout history, with the last ice age ending about 7,000 years ago. Most past climate changes were probably caused by small shifts in our planet’s orbit, which changed the amount of solar energy our planet receives. As a result, generally speaking, winters are becoming shorter and more erratic. For conifers (trees with cones and needles, such as pine, fir and spruce) that grow in subarctic and mild-climate regions, this can create stress, even if the trees are adapted to seasonally low temperatures.
To better understand how these trees’ metabolisms change during winter, Northern Research Station scientists are conducting field and laboratory experiments to see how foliar (leaf-based) sugars relate to freeze tolerance, and exploring the tradeoffs between cold tolerance and seasonal dormancy.
This research will help scientists and land managers understand how different conifer tree types are likely to store carbon dioxide throughout the year. This will allow managers to judge where and when to favor adaptive tree types in order to maximize productivity and carbon sequestration as climates warm.
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- Paul Schaberg, US Forest Service Northern Research Station, Research Plant Physiologist
- Paula Murakami, US Forest Service Northern Research Station, Research Associate
- G. Richard Strimbeck, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Professor of Biology
- Trygve Kjellsen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Ph.D. Candidate
- Last modified: March 19, 2019