Biogeosciences Editors' Highlights

What Will Redwood Trees Do Without Foggy Days?

Coastal California fog—a key source of water for the iconic redwood tree—has declined by a third. Can a trace gas, carbonyl sulfide, be used to assess the effect on plant productivity?

Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences


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Carbonyl sulfide (COS) is a trace gas that exists in minute quantities: around five molecules for every ten billion molecules of air. It is a gas emitted by ocean, soils and fossil fuel burning, and more importantly, occasionally taken up by leaves during the photosynthetic process. Recent advances in instrumentation now allow us to detect this effect. Campbell et al. [2017] demonstrate the clear effect of COS uptake by California’s coastal redwood trees. These iconic, large trees are experiencing significant reduction in moisture with reduction in coastal fog. This research represents one of the first clear demonstrations that carbonyl sulfide is a reliable way to evaluate plant carbon uptake in an otherwise difficult to access ecosystem that is highly sensitive to climate change leading to changes in fog frequency/intensity.

Citation: Campbell, J. E., et al. [2017]. Plant uptake of atmospheric carbonyl sulfide in coast redwood forests. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 122. https://doi.org/10.1002/2016JG003703

—Ankur Rashmikant Desai, Editor, JGR: Biogeosciences

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