Canopy Clock: Isoprene Emissions May Ozone Modelling

Published on September 26, 2011 at 6:34 PM

By Andy Choi

Ozone is not just created by human activities, the plant life on the planet also contribute to it. This is why most models that track emissions and predicted climate change have never come close to being accurate, until now!

Trees emit organic chemicals called isoprenes. These help protect the tree from insects, heat and other foes. The isoprenes can be converted into ozone which is a known pollutant and greenhouse gas. Due to the presence of the isoprenes, pollutants from fossil fuel, and other atmospheric components scientists have had a tough time modeling ground-level ozone.

As per a study headed by atmospheric chemist Nicholas Hewitt of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, two isoprene detection stations were set up in Malaysia. One of these was over the canopy of a rainforest and the second was over an oil palm plantation.

As they tracked the hourly isoprene levels it was found that the emissions peaked at midday and dropped to lowest at night. The oil palm plantation saw a more prominent pattern in this as the trees were all of a single species.

The scientific researcher then corrected the ozone model to reflect the circadian pattern. The similar circadian rhythms of plant iroprene were assumed around the globe. The corrected model was then checked with data from 290 ozone monitoring stations of the US Environmental Protection Agency. By making the adjustments for the circadian rhythms the accuracy if the ozone predicting model was increased by 10% as per the researchers who published their findings in Nature Geoscience.

Source: ScienceMag.org, Article by Sara Reardon, Tick Tock, Modeling Emissions From Trees Around the Clock

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