Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


TROFOCLIM — Result In Brief

Project ID: 242955
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

Climate change and tropical forests

Researchers have analysed more than 100 years of tropical tree growth to see whether increased carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has had an influence on forests. They found that it has, but not in the way they were expecting.
Climate change and tropical forests
Tropical forests are a major carbon stock in the global carbon cycle, responsible for storing as much as 25 % of terrestrial carbon. Scientists think that increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere are fertilising tropical forests, but there is little scientific evidence to base this idea on.

The EU-funded TROFOCLIM (Tropical forests and climate change: Understanding links to predict future responses) project tested this theory by studying tropical tree growth over the last 100 plus years.

Researchers analysed tree rings, measured carbon and oxygen isotopes, and modelled tree growth to try to better understand the relationship between CO2 levels and forests. To achieve this, TROFOCLIM studied 15 tree species in Bolivia, Cameroon and Thailand.

The results showed that the increase in atmospheric CO2 since 1850 has reduced the water stress that tropical trees experience. However, there is no evidence that tree growth has accelerated over the same time frame.

Researchers also used their novel technique to identify large-scale disturbances to tropical forests, as well as changes in how trees regenerate. Overall, this suggests that the common assumption that tropical forests are expanding in response to CO2 levels is incorrect.

TROFOCLIM's new approach will be helpful for researchers studying forest dynamics all over the world. Its findings will have a major impact on climate modelling efforts as well as forest conservation projects.

Related information


Climate change, tropical forests, tree growth, carbon cycle, TROFOCLIM
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