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Picture of the Day

Rising tundra temperatures lead to changes in microbial communities

Rising temperatures in the tundra of northern latitudes could affect microbial communities in ways likely to increase their production of the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide, a new study of experimentally warmed Alaskan soil suggests. The new, NSF-funded study analyzed changes in microbial soil communities being experimentally warmed. The research took place in tundra in the interior of Alaska near Denali National Park. Six experimental blocks were created. In each block, two snow fences were constructed several feet apart to control snow cover in the winter. Thicker winter snow cover served as an insulator, creating slightly higher temperatures -- about 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the experimental plots. The work underscores the importance of accurately representing the role of soil microbes in climate models, the scientists say.

Visit Website | Image credit: Ted Schuur