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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  2014  /  January 2014  /  Large trees absorb more carbon

Large trees absorb more carbon

Emily Lines comments in Guardian and Times

Large trees absorb more carbon

Dr Emily Lines is one of the authors of a recent Nature paper,  'Rate of tree carbon accumulation increases continuously with tree size', that has received extensive coverage in the media, including in the Times and Guardian.

The study turns on its head the common assumption that the growth rate of large trees slows as they get bigger and older. It shows that, in most tree species, growth rate actually increases continuously with tree size. In some cases, large trees appear to be adding the carbon mass equivalent of an entire smaller tree each year.

This conclusion is based on an international analysis of over half a million tree growth rate records, from over 400 species located on all six forested continents.

The findings have implications for carbon storage in forests, since it means that large trees are better at absorbing carbon from the atmosphere than previously thought.

The study was an international collaboration of 38 researchers from research universities, government agencies and non-governmental organisations, led by Dr Nate Stephenson at USGS.



Dr Emily Lines