British forest pumped full of CO2 to test
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[June 26, 2017]
By Matthew J. Stock
STAFFORD, England (Reuters) - Researchers
at a British University have embarked on a decade-long experiment that
will pump a forest full of carbon dioxide to measure how it copes with
rising levels of the gas - a key driver of climate change.
The Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FACE) experiment at the
University of Birmingham's Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) will
expose a fenced-off section of mature woodland - in Norbury Park in
Staffordshire, West Midlands - to levels of CO2 that experts predict
will be prevalent in 2050.
Scientists aim to measure the forest's capacity to capture carbon
released by fossil fuel burning, and answer questions about their
capacity to absorb carbon pollution long-term.
"(Forests) happily take a bit more CO2 because that's their main
nutrient. But we don't know how much more and whether they can do that
indefinitely", BIFoR co-director Michael Tausz told Reuters.
The apparatus for the experiment consists a series of masts built into
six 30-metre wide sections of woodland, reaching up about 25 meters into
the forest canopy.
Concentrated CO2 is fed through pipes to the top of the masts where it
is pumped into the foliage.
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Last year the U.N World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced
that the global average of carbon dioxide, the main man-made
greenhouse gas, reached 400 parts per million (ppm) in the
atmosphere for the first time on record.
"The forest here sees nearly 40 percent more CO2 than it sees
normally, because that's what it will be globally in about 2050; a
value of 550 parts per million, compared to 400 parts per million
now," Tausz said.
With deforestation shrinking the carbon storage capacity of the
world's forests, researchers hope that a greater understanding of
their role in climate change mitigation could help policy makers
make informed decisions.
"We could get a clear idea of whether they can keep helping us into
the future by sucking up more CO2," said Tausz.
The remainder of the Norbury Park woodland is open to the public and
will not be affected by the experiment.
(Reporting by Matthew Stock, writing by Mark Hanrahan, editing by
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