Tropical forests store 50 percent of carbon found on land in Earth's carbon budget. Forests store this carbon out of the atmosphere, where it would otherwise exist in the form of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas on the rise due to fossil fuel burning. Climate and earth systems researchers aren't sure how much carbon the forests will continue to store in a warmer world. To improve that knowledge, today Berkeley Lab announced a $100 million, 10-year project collecting data in and improving climate models of tropical forests, funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Science.
An international team is involved in the effort, which is called the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments-Tropics. The NGEE team includes DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers among a multitude of national labs, government agencies, and non-profits. The project will begin with pilot studies in Manaus, Panama, and Puerto Rico.
PNNL's Ruby Leung will lead a team to understand and model how surface and subsurface water varies geographically and over time, and how that variability influences water and nutrients available to plants in a changing climate. The PNNL team will also participate in other research to develop a way to represent the dynamics of tropical forests in models, and to improve understanding and modeling of vegetation when it's disturbed by nature and humans and then recovers. PNNL will receive $2.2 million over the first three years.
The release shown above is also available at http://www.pnnl.gov/news/release.aspx?id=4193.