How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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Volume 4 Number 50:  12 December 2001

Temperature Record of the Week
This issue's Temperature Record of the week is from Talladega, Alabama. Visit our U.S. Climate Data section to plot and view these data for yourself.

Current Editorial
A Bright Future for the Biosphere: The past president and founder of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change reminds us that the legacy of the historical-and-still-ongoing increase in the air's CO2 content is not all bad.  In fact, he suggests it is primarily good, providing a much-needed positive perspective on the biological aspects of the issue that is like a breath of fresh air in these troubled times of environmentalist gloom- and doom-mongering.

Subject Index Summaries
FACE Experiments (Agricultural Species): Our review of several atmospheric CO2 enrichment studies performed with modern FACE technology suggests that earth's trees and forests will exhibit enhanced rates of photosynthesis, biomass production and carbon sequestration as the air's CO2 content continues to rise.

Ice Sheets (Antarctica): What's happening at the bottom of the world?  Periodically, climate alarmists speak in ominous tones about another chunk of ice the size of a small state breaking loose from Antarctica and setting sail upon the Southern Ocean, or about the warming of the Antarctic Peninsula and how the meltdown of the mountains of ice that cover the continent would cause the world's seas to inundate much of the planet's highly populated coastal areas.  Are these concerns legitimate?  Do we all need to head for the hills?  What's really up ... down under?

Carbon Sequestration Commentary
Trees Spend More Time Sequestering Carbon with More CO2 in the Air: A little-heralded effect of atmospheric CO2 enrichment is that it often enables plants to do productive work earlier in the day, as well as later in the day.  Working longer hours, or at least parts of hours, tireless trees thus store more carbon in their tissues and the soil bank beneath them.

Current Journal Reviews
The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age in Ireland: Extracted from the dark reaches of an Irish cave comes evidence illuminating the approximate 1500-year non-CO2-driven warm/cool climate cycle of which the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age extremes are but the most recent manifestation.

What We Don't Know About CO2 and Climate: There's a lot; and it can hurt us.

Differential Responses of Bog Vegetation to Elevated CO2 and Nitrogen Supply: After three years of atmospheric CO2 enrichment, Sphagnum magellanicum growing in moss monoliths significantly increased in height and biomass without negatively affecting the relative proportions of several vascular plant species that were present in the monoliths.

Effects of Elevated CO2 on Bog Vegetation: In contrast to other studies reviewed on our website, vegetation in nutrient-poor bogs showed little response to atmospheric CO2 enrichment in this experiment, suggesting that low soil fertility might preclude a growth response to elevated CO2 in these ecosystems.

Effects of Elevated CO2 on Poplar Growth: A Review of 28 Experiments Described in the Scientific Literature: Elevated CO2 stimulated photosynthesis and biomass production under nearly all environmental conditions, making the planting of Populus species for the purpose of sequestering carbon and producing harvestable timber a prudent and promising enterprise.