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Effects of Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions on the Growth and Water Use Efficiency of Western U.S. Ponderosa Pine Trees
Soule, P.T. and Knapp, P.A. 2011. Radial growth and increased water-use efficiency for ponderosa pine trees in three regions in the western United States. The Professional Geographer 63: 379-391.

What was done
The authors, as they describe it, "examined changes in and relationships between radial growth and intrinsic water-use efficiency (iWUE) of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) trees, climate, and atmospheric CO2 in the western United States since the mid-nineteenth century," developing "tree-ring chronologies for eight sites in three climate regions and using carbon isotope data to calculate pentadal values of iWUE," after which they "examined relationships among radial growth, climate, iWUE, and CO2 via correlation and regression analyses."

What was learned
Soule and Knapp say their results demonstrate that "trends toward higher rates of iWUE for ponderosa pine are panregional, occurring at eight sites within three distinct climatic regimes and for two subspecies," which results, in their words, "are similar to those reported by Feng (1999) for several coniferous tree species found throughout western North America." They also note that "increasing iWUE has been reported for conifers at other northern hemisphere locations (e.g., Bert et al., 1997; Saurer et al., 2004)," concluding that "future increases in iWUE are likely for ponderosa pine within our study regions as CO2 levels increase." In addition, they state that they found "significant improvements in radial growth rates during drought years after 1950."

What it means
The two researchers say their findings suggest that "increased iWUE associated with rising CO2 can positively impact tree growth rates in the western United States and are thus an evolving component of forest ecosystem processes." And these CO2-induced iWUE increases are a mighty positive component, we might add, which is quite the opposite of what one would expect from what many climate alarmists claim to be a harmful air pollutant, which must be stopped from accumulating in the atmosphere at all costs.

Soule and Knapp also state that "if potential climate changes lead to increasing aridity in the western United States, additional increases in iWUE associated with future increases in CO2 might ameliorate growth declines associated with drought conditions." Yet in spite of all this good news, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change strive to do all within their power to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions to essentially nothing. Taking a quote from an old Beatles tune, we'd say that's very strange!

Bert, D., Leavitt, S. and Dupouey, J.-L. 1997. Variations of wood δ13C and water-use efficiency of Abies alba during the last century. Ecology 78: 1588-1596.

Feng, X. 1999. Trends in intrinsic water-use efficiency of natural trees for the past 100-200 years: A response to atmospheric concentration. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 63: 1891-1903.

Saurer, M., Siegwolf, R. and Schweingruber, F. 2004. Carbon isotope discrimination indicates improving water-use efficiency of trees in northern Eurasia over the last 100 years. Global Change Biology 10: 2109-2120.

Reviewed 11 April 2012