Skip to comments.Geoscientist finds beavers play a role in climate change
Posted on 07/18/2013 1:55:09 PM PDT by Red Badger
Ellen Wohl, a geology professor at Colorado State University, has published a paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, describing the role beavers play in climate change. In a field study she undertook, she found that carbon is sequestered when beavers build dams and is released after the beavers abandon the dams they've built.
Most people are aware that beavers build dams. They're responsible for river and stream blockage across many parts of North America. What has not been known, until now, is what sort of impact beaver dams and their backed up water have on carbon sequestering.
Carbon of course, exists in the wood of trees. When trees die and decompose, that carbon is released into the atmosphere. But what happens when the wood of a dead tree becomes submerged beneath the water of a dam built by a beaver? That's what Wohl set out to learn.
In a field study in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park, Wohl took samples from areas known as beaver meadowsthe land that has become submerged or wet due to dams backing up flowing rivers or streams. She collected 29 sediment samples from the wet areas around 27 streams in the park. Upon analysis, the sediment turned out to be harboring 12 percent carbon by weight. This was in stark contrast to sediment samples she and colleagues collected last year in beaver meadows where the dams had been abandoned allowing the land to dry. There the samples revealed carbon content of just 3.3 percent. Wood buried beneath water and sediment decays more slowly than wood left on dry land. Thus, by building dams, beavers cause the carbon in the wood to be sequesteredat least until they abandon the dam and allow the water behind it to dry up.
Wohl's data suggests that if all the beaver meadow land now dried due to abandoned dams were still wet, the amount of additional carbon sequestered would add up to 2.7 million metric tons. Much of that carbon was released in the years shortly after the North American continent was colonizedtrappers significantly reduced the population of beavers leaving millions of dams abandoned.
Carbon sequestered by beaver dams hardly registers on a global scale of coursealmost ten billion tons of it is added to the atmosphere worldwide each year. Nonetheless, Wohl's study shows that at least some of those emissions can come from some surprising places.
It wasn't my fault! Honest!..............
Save the planet! Eat a Beaver!
And they make nice coats too — although prickly around the face. Sheared beaver is nicer around the chin.
Bob Costas will be devastated.
This is so exciting!
If beavers can sequester this much carbon by building dams and keeping dead trees under water, then just think how much carbon humans can sequester by turning dead trees into lumber and keeping it under paint or siding!
I was at the Berlin Zoo today and thought I saw a beaver but was told it is a water pig. Thing was huge. I wanted to shoot half the animals in the zoo.
Yep. Beavers make men buy fast cars. Fast cars use more gas and produce more greenhouse gases. Some beavers are so hot that they create their own climate change. Of course, some beavers are cold as hell, but they just get ignored and really don’t offset the hot ones at all.
Who would have thought that beavers impact the environment/S
I wonder how much she was paid to find this startling information.
This isn’t going to end well.
End? Hell it didn’t even START WELL!.............
Most beaver dams have a lifespan of decades at most, making essentially no difference in the carbon cycle.
I heard that there is an exit 69 off of an interstate highway, which leads to Big Beaver Road.
Thanks! (I think...)
“I was at the Berlin Zoo today and thought I saw a beaver but was told it is a water pig. Thing was huge. I wanted to shoot half the animals in the zoo”
Have to explore that. You wanted to shoot them because: A) They would make a great BBQ, B) They were freakishly big, and just needed killin’, C) They gave you stink-eye and forgot you were the alpha-dog, or D) All the above.
Now they are blaming beavers.
Next they will be blaming the intern.
And the classic “Ward, weren’t you a little hard on the Beaver last night?”
There actually was a mid sized donkey that needed killing at the petting zoo. Place was a madhouse with so many kids. My wife said pet the little goat but I didn’t want to pet the goat. Then a boy let the donkey out of its gate and it charged the goat, bit it on the back and pinned it to the ground.
The goat was screaming, then a large woman clapped her hands and the donkey let go and went in circles kicking its back legs like crazy. We left that part of the zoo and then I didn’t trust any of them.
In the long run, nothing makes any difference to the carbon cycle. That's why they call it a 'cycle'. ;-}
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