Magazine article Geographical

Twisted Logic: Hurricanes and Tropical Cyclones Trigger Carbon Dioxide Uptake in Forests

Magazine article Geographical

Twisted Logic: Hurricanes and Tropical Cyclones Trigger Carbon Dioxide Uptake in Forests

Article excerpt

Hurricanes can be brutal, extreme releases of weather, and are often perceived negatively for their destructive power. But what if they were also a help? What if they were responsible for soaking up vast quantities of carbon dioxide?

According to new findings by Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, tropical cyclones cause forests in the southeast of the United States to draw in more carbon than is annually emitted by all the cars in the country. 'The water cycle and the carbon cycle are tightly linked with plants acting as a medium between the two,' says Ana Barros, Environmental Engineer at the university and co-author of the research. 'Depending on the weather conditions, plants can vary in the amount of carbon dioxide they uptake with photosynthesis.'

Tropical storms can be an asset by breaking summer periods of drought, when plants and soils become too stressed to uptake much C02. 'Soil layers can dry out and roots cannot extract the water needed for transpiration,' says Barros. 'At that point, the plant's pores--or stomata--close to reduce further water loss. …

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