How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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Old Trees in Ancient Forests
Chambers, J.Q., Higuchi, N. and Schimel, J.P.  1998.  Ancient trees in Amazonia.  Nature 391: 135-136.

What was done
The ages of 20 large trees, selected to represent 13 species harvested in a logging operation near Manaus, Brazil, were determined by the carbon 14 dating method; and the results were related to the trees' trunk diameters.

What was learned
Many of the bigger trees were found to be much older than what had previously been believed to be the upper age limit for trees of that region, with some of them having lived for well over a millennium.

What it means
Since approximately 50% of the aboveground biomass of tropical rainforests is contained in less than the largest 10% of the trees, very old trees represent the single most important repository of above-ground carbon in these highly productive ecosystems.  This finding thus suggests that atmospheric CO2 removal by certain types of trees can be an effective means of carbon sequestration for very long time periods; for the authors point out that some of these trees may continue to grow and sequester significant amounts of carbon for over 1,400 years.  Consequently, since the life span of massive long-lived rainforest trees is considerably greater than the projected life span of the entire "Age of Fossil Fuels," their cultivation and preservation represents an essentially permanent partial solution to the perceived problem of global warming that many people ascribe to anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

Reviewed 1 October 1998