News Round-Up

Biologists uncover forests’ unexpected role in climate change


New research from West Virginia University biologists shows that trees around the world are consuming more carbon dioxide than previously reported, making forests even more important in regulating the Earth’s atmosphere and forever shift how we think about climate change.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor Richard Thomas and alumnus Justin Mathias (BS Biology, ’13 and Ph.D. Biology, ’20) synthesised published tree ring studies. They found that increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over the past century have caused an uptick in trees’ water-use efficiency, the ratio of carbon dioxide taken up by photosynthesis to the water lost by transpiration – the act of trees “breathing out” water vapour. MORE

Header image: WVU alumnus Justin Mathias holds a tree increment borer to extract tree cores at Gaudineer Knob in West Virginia. Mathias and Richard Thomas, professor of forest ecology and climate change, found that trees are taking in more carbon dioxide than previously thought in a new study. Credit: WVU Photo.