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New PCIC Science Brief: On the Promise of Biomass and Biosphere-Climate Interactions

PCIC is pleased to announce the release of our next Science Brief. PCIC Science Briefs are a regular series of brief reports on recent climate science literature, relevant to stakeholders in the Pacific and Yukon Region of Canada. PCIC has developed these briefs because we recognize the need for a bridge between the cutting edge of climate science research and the various stakeholders who need access to this knowledge, in plain-language reports, filtered for regional relevance, and suitable for consideration in planning and adaptation. The PCIC Science Briefs contextualize and explain the results and implications of important scientific findings.

The new Science Brief examines two recent articles that seek to answer two related questions: What role could utilizing vegetation burning for energy, with methods to capture the carbon dioxide emitted, have in aggressive short-term climate mitigation in western North America? And, how might North American vegetation and its interactions with the climate change in the future?

The first paper, by Sanchez et al. (2014) in Nature Climate Change, uses an energy supply model to answer the first question. They find that western North America could attain a carbon-negative power system by 2050 through aggressive deployment of renewable energy sources, vegetation burning with carbon capture and storage, and fossil fuel reductions. The second article, by Garnaud and Sushama (2014) in Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, examines the second question using downscaled global climate model output. Their projections show an increase to growing season length, vegetation productivity (outside of the southeastern US) and biomass, as well as increased plant water-use efficiency.They also find that vegetation feedbacks may increase warming in summer at higher latitudes and reduce summer warming at lower latitudes.

Read this Science Brief

Sanchez., D. L., J.H. Nelson, J. Johnston, A. Mileva and D.M. Kammen, 2015: Biomass enables the transition to a carbon negative power system across western North America. Nature Climate Change, 5, 230–234, doi:10.1038/nclimate2488.

Garnaud, C and L. Sushama, 2015: Biosphere-climate interactions in a changing climate over North America. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 120, 3, 1091–1108, doi: 10.1002/2014JD022055.