BER Research Highlights

Search Date: June 28, 2017

4 Records match the search term(s):


April 03, 2002

U.S. Senator Visits BER Research Project

U.S. Senator Carl Levin (Michigan) spent several hours (on February 21, 2002) with the BER-sponsored research team at Michigan Technological University. The research team is studying effects of rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and ozone, both products of energy production, on northern hardwood forest ecosystems. The project findings have important implications for the structure and functioning of forest ecosystems during the coming decades as both carbon dioxide and ozone levels continue to increase. Since the BER-funded study began in 1998, the researchers have discovered significant differences in how various tree species (aspen, birch, and maple) respond to the two-gas mixture, and even differences between trees of the same species (aspen) but with different genetic makeups. Effects of the treatments have been observed at scales ranging from the molecular level up to the entire forest ecosystem. The project was recently renewed, following a peer review, and the senator complimented the research team, saying, "I'm just here to congratulate you, and I'm grateful you received a grant to continue your work."

Contact: Jeffrey S. Amthor, SC-74, 3-2507
Topic Areas:

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER
      (formerly SC-74 Environmental Sciences Division, OBER)


March 06, 2002

BER Researchers Highly Cited in Global Warming Science

The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)--publisher of the popular research tools Current Contents and The Science Citation Index--recently released their list of the "Top 25" scientific papers about global warming published between 1991 and 2000 (see [website]). Their analysis tallied the number of scientific journal articles that cited specific scientific papers about various aspects of global warming, and determined the 25 most-cited papers on the topic. Four of those 25 papers were directly related to BER research, and of the 76 authors of those 25 papers, 25 are or were supported by BER grants and contracts. The author of paper number 12, Jeff Amthor, is presently a BER Program Manager. This list from the ISI is a strong indication that BER is playing an important role in national and international scientific studies of global warming, its causes, and its potential effects on humans, economies, and ecosystems.

Contact: Jeffrey S. Amthor, SC-74, 3-2507
Topic Areas:

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER
      (formerly SC-74 Environmental Sciences Division, OBER)


February 27, 2002

Wheat Growth Stimulated by High CO2

Arnold Bloom (Department of Vegetable Crops, University of California, Davis) and coworkers published the paper "Nitrogen assimilation and growth of wheat under elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide" in the February 5 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (99:1730-1735). Bloom et al. grew wheat (the world's major food crop) in elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide, a product of energy production. When wheat was grown in an atmosphere containing twice-ambient carbon dioxide (levels that may be realized later in this century) their growth was stimulated as expected. But the researchers found that the form of nitrogen supplied to the plant roots significantly affected their response to elevated carbon dioxide. When wheat was supplied with ammonium nitrogen, the growth stimulation caused by elevated carbon dioxide was about twice the growth stimulation as when plants were given nitrate nitrogen. Bloom et al. discovered that elevated carbon dioxide inhibited the assimilation of nitrate nitrogen by wheat, but not nitrogen in the ammonium form. This may mean that major changes in fertilizer practices in agriculture will be needed in the future as carbon dioxide levels continue to increase. It may also mean that plants in natural ecosystems that prefer nitrate over ammonium as a nitrogen source, will be at a competitive disadvantage in the future because of inhibition of nitrate uptake due to elevated carbon dioxide. The research is supported by BER.

Contact: Jeffrey S. Amthor, SC-74, 3-2507
Topic Areas:

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER
      (formerly SC-74 Environmental Sciences Division, OBER)


January 23, 2002

A Global Carbon Cycle Problem Solved

Recently published research supported by the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program has answered an important question about future changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration. During their normal respiratory metabolism, plants globally release about 10 times as much CO2 into the atmosphere each year as humans do by burning fossil fuels (plants also take up CO2 during photosynthesis, so their respiration does not normally contribute to the ongoing atmospheric CO2 increase). Any changes in normal global plant respiration might therefore affect atmospheric CO2 levels. It has been thought for about a decade that rising CO2 might inhibit plant respiration, and that this would act as an important negative feedback on atmospheric CO2 increase. But recent BER research, and other studies building on the BER-supported foundation, indicates that plant respiration is not directly affected by CO2 concentration. Because of this, no negative feedback on CO2 increase is expected from a slowing of plant respiration, and an important uncertainty concerning the future course of atmospheric CO2 changes has been eliminated.

Contact: Jeffrey S. Amthor, SC-74, 3-2507
Topic Areas:

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER
      (formerly SC-74 Environmental Sciences Division, OBER)