Is carbon storage enough? Can plants adapt? New questions in climate change research. Neilson, Ronald P.
As it becomes increasingly apparent that human activities are partly responsible for global warming, the focus of climate change research is shifting from the churning out of assessments to the pursuit of science that can test the robustness of existing models. The questions now being addressed are becoming more challenging: Can water-use efficiency of plants keep up with rising temperatures? Will we see a greening period for some decades, even a century, before facing a rapid browndown as threshold temperatures are reached? Or could the thresholds be reached much sooner because of interactions of biophysical processes? Is the carbon storage issue missing the point? The ongoing development of climate change models includes delving into the dynamic processes that interact to affect world climate, vegetation, and ocean conditions. As the computing power to reflect the complexity of these interactions increases, is it possible to improve our ability to look wisely to future scenarios, and manage our resources flexibly in response?