Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Beetles may doom Canada's carbon reduction target: study

by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) April 23, 2008
Pine beetles that have already destroyed huge swathes of Canadian forest are on pace to release 270 megatonnes of carbon dioxide (C02) into the atmosphere by 2020, says a study released Wednesday.

That is the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions that Canada is committed to reducing by 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol, and would effectively doom that effort to failure, the study says.

By the end of 2006, the mountain pine beetle -- Dendroctonus ponderosae -- had ravaged 130,000 square kilometres (more than 50,000 square miles) of forests in western Canada.

While not the first outbreak in the last decade, the latest is ten times larger than any previous attacks.

The tiny beetle, the shape and size of a grain of rice and native to the western part of North America, lays its eggs under the bark of mature lodge-pole pine and jack pine trees.

Once the insects are embedded, a tree's fate is sealed.

Healthy forests are normally carbon sinks, meaning that they absorb more carbon dioxide -- the number one greenhouse gas -- than they give off.

When trees die, however, they release large amounts of pent up CO2 into the atmosphere, and leave fewer living plants to soak it up.

Previous climate change models of northern forests have failed to take the impact of such insect infestations into account, the study says.

A team of researchers led by Werner Kurz of the Canadian Forestry Service measured the cumulative and individual effect on the carbon cycle of forest fires, logging and tree deaths due to beetles.

The impact of the beetles alone has "converted the forest from a small net carbon sink to a large net carbon source both during and immediately after the outbreak," the authors conclude.

Kurz calculated that by 2020 the beetle outbreak will have released 270 megatonnes of C02 into the air, more than "the total average sink of all of Canada's managed forest over the last decade."

This points up the often unpredictable interplay of factors influencing global warming, and how a single element can be both cause and effect.

Earlier research has shown that pine beetles have thrived in Canada in recent years due warmer weather. "Climate change has contributed to the unprecedented extent and severity of this outbreak," concludes the study, published in the British journal Nature.

Now the beetles are speeding up that very process.

Forests are only one of the Earth's major carbon sinks. Recently scientists have found that the Southern Ocean and the North Atlantic have lost some of their ability to absorb C02.

They fear that the same could be true of all the planet's oceans, which together absorb a quarter of man-made carbon dioxide emissions every year.

Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Related Links
Darwin Today At

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Biodiversity loss will lead to sick world: experts
Singapore (AFP) April 23, 2008
The world risks wiping out a new generation of antibiotics and cures for diseases if it fails to reverse the extinction of thousands of plant and animal species, experts warned Wednesday.

  • Big Tokyo quake would cause human gridlock: study
  • Disasters In Small Communities: Researchers Discuss How To Help
  • Raytheon Develops Advanced Concrete Breaking Technology For Urban Search And Rescue
  • Floods, cyclones, devastate southern Africa: UN

  • ALOS Will Provide Advanced Data To Help Latin America Better Adapt To Climate Threats
  • Response to climate security threats 'slow and inadequate': report
  • UN official says climate change pact on troubled path
  • Climate change: Progress at polluters' talks, but obstacles ahead

  • NASA selects Landsat spacecraft contractor
  • Mars Technology On Board A Balloon To Study The Earth's Atmosphere
  • Northrop Grumman Submits Proposal For GOES-R To NASA
  • Contract Signed For ESA's Sentinel-3 Earth Observation Satellite

  • Germany backs EU biofuels targets
  • Morphic Technologies Tests Tomorrow's Wind Turbines On Oland
  • Analysis: Venezuela, Iran bolster ties
  • Babson College To Commission Campus Wind Turbine During Earth Day Celebrations

  • International Health Experts To Enlist The Public In War On African Malaria
  • Analysis: Indonesian-U.S. bird flu sharing
  • Flu Tracked To Viral Reservoir In Tropics
  • China rejects human-to-human bird flu report

  • Biodiversity loss will lead to sick world: experts
  • Beetles may doom Canada's carbon reduction target: study
  • Shanghai begins anti-mosquito drive ahead of Games: report
  • The Present Is The Key To The Past

  • Researchers Look To Make Environmentally Friendly Plastics
  • Europe Spends Nearly Twice As Much As US On Nanotech Risk Research
  • Australian state to ban plastic bags
  • Olympics: Australia to test Beijing-bound athletes for asthma

  • 'Sims' creator lets people play god in new computer game
  • Are Humans Hardwired For Fairness
  • Unconscious Decisions In The Brain
  • Plan Brokered By UCLA, USC Archaeologists Would Remove Roadblock To Mideast Peace

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement