Plants and Climate Change

Did you know that forests can help ward off the negative impacts of climate change by storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? Forests in the Northeastern US can sequester or store up to 20% of the annual CO2 emissions from this region through the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use light energy and water to make a sugar called glucose and release oxygen. The glucose that is made is used to make the wood and leaf tissues of the plant and that is how carbon is stored. When a plant dies and decomposes, the process of decomposition (decomposition lesson) releases the plant’s carbon back into the atmosphere.

Credit: S. Luyssaert et-al.

But how can we calculate how much CO2 a forest is absorbing? And what happens when atmospheric temperatures increase or precipitation changes from year to year? You can learn more about how our Black Rock Forest scientists are calculating photosynthesis to gain a better understanding about our forests potential to sequester carbon by watching the video inside the portal.