Biosphere, Atmosphere, Ocean Interactions: A Plant Physiologist’s Perspective
Recent evidence that the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere is increasing (Keeling, 1973), coupled with simulation studies of possible climatic consequences of increasing CO2 (Hansen et al., 1985) and evidence from ice cores that relates past changes in climate with changes in the concentration of CO2 (Barnola et al., 1987), has stimulated a great deal of interest in the mechanisms that determine the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere. Sampling programs reporting the composition of the atmosphere have been in place since the late 50s and the technologies for analysis of air recovered from ice cores provides a source of fossil air extending to approximately 160,000 years ago. These data provide convincing evidence that our present era is undergoing unprecedented change, and efforts to address this issue have made demands on many scientific disciplines not previously thought to have global aspirations. Biology, with its strong reductionist tradition has been slow to respond, and we find ourselves trying very hard to play catch-up with atmospheric scientists who have already made substantial progress towards including biological processes in their global studies. My goal here is to draw attention to some of the advantages of studying biological processes in closed systems, and to show that some properties of the global system can be understood by treating it as closed.
KeywordsGross Primary Productivity Isotope Effect Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer Terrestrial Biosphere Glycolate Oxidase
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