Some like it hot… some do not
December 10, 2012
It looks like an artist robbed an office supply store to create a postmodern installation in the treetops of Panama's Parque Metropolitano
It looks like an artist robbed an office supply store to create a postmodern installation in the treetops of Panama's Parque Metropolitano. But the tendril-like copper thermocouples attached to leaves with hot pink and purple paper clips are part of an experiment to find out how tropical trees acclimate to rising temperatures.
Dangling in the basket of STRI's canopy access crane, Camilo Rey Sánchez measures leaf respiration and photosynthesis. He came to STRI as an intern after graduating from Colombia's Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas. Now he's an assistant to Martijn Slot, a former STRI short-term fellow and a graduate student of the University of Florida, working for a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) supported project led by a STRI research associate, Kaoru Kitajima.
The crane driver, Edwin Andrade, precisely maneuvers the basket toward a branch below. There, in a tinfoil-tanning salon, a sprig of Luehea seemani leaves rests against heating elements programmed to come on at night to simulate warmer nights, a predicted outcome of climate change.
Global models predict a 3°C temperature rise by 2100. At high temperatures, respiration may continue rising while photosynthesis may not. If that's the case, trees become less efficient in countering global warming as they remove less excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.