Computer simulation of the effect of redwood photosynthesis on the “drawdown,” or removal, of carbonyl sulfide from the atmosphere. Credit: Campbell et al., 2017, Figure 4a
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences

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.

—Ankur Rashmikant Desai, Editor, JGR: Biogeosciences

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