DOE News
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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2018-11-05 15:05:40
    • Article ID: 703255

    Warmer Temperatures Lengthen Growing Season, Increase Plants' Vulnerability to Frost

    Experimental warming treatments show how peatland forests may respond to future environmental change.

    • Credit: Victor O. Leshyk

      Results from the SPRUCE experiment in northern Minnesota show how experimental warming treatments in a boreal peatland forest resulted in earlier spring green-up by trees and shrubs. A severe spring frost caused extensive damage to the warmed foliage that had lost its winter hardiness. In the control treatments, the vegetation was not damaged by the frost despite temperatures dropping to about 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees Celsius).

    The Science

    By warming mature spruce trees and surrounding plants in containment tents in a Minnesota peat bog, researchers examined what happens when the growing season is extended. They found it makes plants more vulnerable to cold snaps. Trees and shrubs green up earlier in spring and stay green longer in autumn, indicating potential extension of the growing season by up to 3 to 6 weeks by the end of the current century. However, as plants greened up earlier, some also lost their winter hardiness. These plants were exposed to damage when a spring frost hit in early April 2016.

    The Impact

    Recent warming trends lengthen the growing season in temperate and boreal ecosystems, such as the Ozark Highlands and Alaska’s interior forests. Scientists wondered if the longer growing season trend would be limited by the shorter days (less daylight) in the early spring and late autumn. This study resolves that debate. It shows that with warming of up to +9 degrees Celsius above ambient, vegetation responses to increased temperature were linear and not limited by day length.

    Summary

    The SPRUCE experiment is applying warming (0 to +9 degrees Celsius above ambient) and carbon dioxide (ambient and elevated) treatments to intact communities of mature vegetation in a boreal black-spruce sphagnum bog in Minnesota (upper Midwest). Digital cameras mounted in each of the 10 experimental plots show that warming treatments linearly extend the period of vegetation activity in both spring and autumn. There was little evidence that the length of the day (photoperiod) limited these phenological shifts. The camera observations are consistent with ground observations of the timing of flowering and growth by a variety of bog plant species. In spring 2016, unusually warm weather in March was followed by extreme cold in early April. Vegetation in the warmest chambers (+6.75, +9.0 degrees Celsius) suffered severe frost damage as the temperature dropped to -3 degrees Celsius, indicating a premature loss of frost hardiness. By comparison, vegetation in the cooler chambers (0, +2.25, +4.5 degrees Celsius) was undamaged, despite experiencing dramatically colder temperatures (up to -15 degrees Celsius). Thus, because phenological transitions—including loss of frost hardiness—appear to be driven by the temperature, rather than cued by photoperiod, vegetation may be exposed to greater risk of frost damage in a warmer world. These experimental results are of particular significance because boreal forests have a circumpolar distribution and play a key role in the global carbon cycle.

    Funding

    The Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research supported the research. The National Science Foundation supported PhenoCam.

    Publications

    A.D. Richardson, K. Hufkens, T. Milliman, D.M. Aubrecht, M.E. Furze, B. Seyednasrollah, M.B. Krassovski, J.M. Latimer, W.R. Nettles, R.R. Heiderman, J.M. Warren, and P.J. Hanson, “Ecosystem warming extends vegetation activity but heightens vulnerability to cold temperatures.” Nature 560, 368 (2018). [DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0399-1]

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    Microbes Eat the Same in Labs and the Desert

    Analyses of natural communities forming soil crusts agree with laboratory studies of isolated microbe-metabolite relationships.

    Scientists Produce 3-D Chemical Maps of Single Bacteria

    Scientists at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II)--a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory--have used ultrabright x-rays to image single bacteria with higher spatial resolution than ever before. Their work, published in Scientific Reports, demonstrates an x-ray imaging technique, called x-ray fluorescence microscopy (XRF), as an effective approach to produce 3-D images of small biological samples.

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    Climate Simulations Project Wetter, Windier Hurricanes

    New supercomputer simulations by climate scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have shown that climate change intensified the amount of rainfall in recent hurricanes such as Katrina, Irma, and Maria by 5 to 10 percent. They further found that if those hurricanes were to occur in a future world that is warmer than present, those storms would have even more rainfall and stronger winds.

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    New design coats molecular components and dramatically improves stability under tough, oxidizing conditions.

    X-Rays Show How Periods of Stress Changed an Ice Age Hyena to the Bone

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    Turning Wood Scraps into Tape

    A new chemical process converts a component of wasted wood pulp and other biomass into high-value pressure-sensitive adhesives.


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    Argonne's Min Si receives early career award from IEEE Computer Society

    Argonne's Min Si wins Award for Excellence for Early Career Researchers in High Performance Computing through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

    Jefferson Lab Director Appointed to Distinguished Professorship

    Stuart Henderson, director of the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, has been appointed the Governor's Distinguished CEBAF professor at Old Dominion University. The position is supported by the Commonwealth of Virginia and is named for the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility, which is the main research facility located at Jefferson Lab.

    DOE issues call for HPC for Energy Innovation proposals

    The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation (HPC4EI) Initiative today issued its first joint solicitation for the High Performance Computing for Manufacturing Program (HPC4Mfg) and the High Performance Computing for Materials Program (HPC4Mtls).

    DOE funding advances project to turn captured CO2 into key chemicals

    The U.S. Department of Energy has selected Southern Research for an award of up to $1.5 million to advance technology for carbon dioxide utilization.

    Sierra Reaches Higher Altitudes, Takes Number Two Spot on List of Fastest Supercomputers

    Sierra, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's newest supercomputer, rose to second place on the list of the world's fastest computing systems, TOP500 List representatives announced Monday at the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis conference (SC18) in Dallas.

    Green energy: Wind energy agreement will provide savings, 50 percent of electricity needs for Kansas State University Manhattan campus

    Kansas State University has signed an agreement with Westar Energy to provide approximately 50 percent of the energy needs for the university's main Manhattan campus from a wind farm in Nemaha County and save the university nearly $200,000 annually.

    INCITE grants awarded to 62 computational research projects

    The U.S. Department of Energy announced new projects for 2019 through its Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program.

    Argonne's Raj Kettimuthu Named ACM Distinguished Member

    Argonne computer scientist Raj Kettimuthu recently was named a Distinguished Member of the Association for Computing Machinery for his development of tools to analyze and enhance end-to-end data transfer performance.

    Jefferson Lab-Affiliated Researchers Honored as APS Fellows

    The Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility now has a few more fellows on campus. The American Physical Society, a professional membership society that works on behalf of the physics community, recently announced its list of 2018 fellowships.

    Jefferson Lab Receives DOE Award for Energy Efficient Upgrade

    On Oct. 23, a team from the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility was honored at the 2018 Federal Energy and Water Management Award Ceremony for upgrades made to the lab's data center, ultimately improving its energy efficiency.


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    Microbes Eat the Same in Labs and the Desert

    Analyses of natural communities forming soil crusts agree with laboratory studies of isolated microbe-metabolite relationships.

    Diverse Biofeedstocks Have High Ethanol Yields and Offer Biorefineries Flexibility

    Evidence suggests that biorefineries can accept various feedstocks without negatively impacting the amount of ethanol produced per acre.

    Opening Access to Explore the Synthetic Chemistry of Neptunium

    New, easily prepared starting material opens access to learning more about a difficult-to-control element in nuclear waste.

    Tiny Titanium Barrier Halts Big Problem in Fuel-Producing Solar Cells

    New design coats molecular components and dramatically improves stability under tough, oxidizing conditions.

    Turning Wood Scraps into Tape

    A new chemical process converts a component of wasted wood pulp and other biomass into high-value pressure-sensitive adhesives.

    Very Heavy Elements Deliver More Electrons

    Scientists revise understanding of the limits of bonding for very electron-rich heavy elements.

    Probing Water's "No-Man's Land" Temperature Region

    Measuring the physical properties of water at previously unexplored temperatures offers insights into one of the world's essential liquids.

    Novel Soil Bacteria with Unusual Genes Synthesize Unique Antibiotic Precursors

    A large-scale soil project uncovered genetic information from bacteria with the capacity to make specialized molecules that could lead to new pharmaceuticals.

    Warmer Temperatures Lengthen Growing Season, Increase Plants' Vulnerability to Frost

    Experimental warming treatments show how peatland forests may respond to future environmental change.

    Rising Stars Seek to Learn from the Master: Mother Nature

    A trio of scientists was recognized for their early career successes in uncovering how microbes produce fuel, insights that could change our energy portfolio


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