The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?  (Read 57254 times)

Offline iRock

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« on: 18/12/2013 14:51:45 »
I know 1 mature tree can store 48 lbs CO2 per year and give 260 lbs O2 per tree per year . So exactly how much CO2 1 tree use per year for photosynthesis and storing process or just only 48 lbs ?

I know grassland absorb 2400 – 3600 lbs CO2 per acre per year and create half kilogram O2 per 1 square foot per day . So exactly how much CO2 grassland use per year for photosynthesis and storing process ?
« Last Edit: 23/12/2013 09:42:07 by chris »


 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
Re: About CO2
« Reply #1 on: 18/12/2013 18:59:52 »
It is not quite clear what you are asking.
If you are asking on the globe...  then it is difficult to say.

There are about 57,308,738 square miles on the continents on Earth.
640 acres per square mile.

That gives about: 36,677,592,320 acres, including forests, farmland, deserts, and glaciers.  However, if you say 1 ton of CO2 per year per acre, then one comes up with 36 gigatons of CO2 being absorbed on the continents, plus what is absorbed in the oceans. 

However,
All plants are balanced with decomposers.  Even the trees eventually die, and are decomposed. 

So, while about 36 gigatons of CO2 is absorbed every year, the vast majority is released again by the plants in a cycle. 

Are your numbers off a bit?
The plants and trees absorb Carbon Dioxide (CO2) + Water (H2O).

The trees generally store hydrocarbons (chains in the form of CH3(CH2)nCOOH, and various other similar compounds, but mostly carbon and hydrogen).

So, I presume you are saying that they are storing 2400 – 3600 lbs of CARBON per acre, not CO2.  So, the CO2 absorbed is about 3 times the value calculated above, or somewhere around 100 gigatons on the continents (with the caveat that most is released again, as mentioned).
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4708
  • Thanked: 153 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: About CO2
« Reply #2 on: 19/12/2013 00:16:26 »
Quote
Even the trees eventually die, and are decomposed.
which makes one wonder why coal looks like dead trees. Or indeed why Venice hasn't disappeared.

Fact is that the historic record shows very rapid rises in atmospheric CO2, each followed by a slow drift downwards. Now given the propensity of trees to grow rather slowly, the curve suggests that plant sequestration is quite a longterm effect, with a halflife of several thousand years.   
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11993
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: About CO2
« Reply #3 on: 23/12/2013 03:46:39 »
That's a tricky one. And myself I think it is educated guessing mostly as it seems a new field.

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/view.php?id=21354
and
http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/45308

And it's also about diversity, of fauna and flora. Like different types of trees sequestering CO2. Pine trees are as good a leaf trees there as I get it, but you won't see the same biodiversity. It's like using space mapping, stating that there is as much trees growing as we cut down. It doesn't tell us a thing about the biodiversity, without knowing what types of (fast growing) trees they plant, also knowing what grew (existed) there before.
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4708
  • Thanked: 153 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #4 on: 23/12/2013 17:32:04 »
Hardly new science. This was the substance of my first biology lesson, in 1956.

"Plants use sunlight to synthesise complex organic molecules from atmospheric carbon dioxide, with water, nitrogen compounds and trace elements principally taken up from the soil. Animals get energy from the oxidation of carbohydrates and hydrocarbons, mostly from plants."
« Last Edit: 23/12/2013 17:43:23 by alancalverd »
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11993
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #5 on: 26/12/2013 01:26:12 »
photosynthesis ain't new, but I think that discussing carbon sequestering, giving defined numbers for different environments, are rather new, to me at least.
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4708
  • Thanked: 153 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #6 on: 26/12/2013 01:44:29 »
I can't think why. The entire farming and forestry industries are based on quantified CO2 sequestration by photosynthesis. What the customers do with the product is another matter, of course, but if you can't calculate the mass of cabbage or construction timber you can grow in a year, you won't be able to raise capital or loans to run your agribusiness!
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11993
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #7 on: 26/12/2013 02:15:42 »
You got a good point there Alan. It's more of looking at it another way I guess, and different trees should sequester carbon differently. Like some Forrest industry cutting down old forests with slow growing trees, having 'tight year rings', then planting other, fast growing ones, to get their new investments back as fast as possible. What that will mean in form of sequestering carbon? Maybe not as much? As they will continue to plant that variety, after thinning the woods out of grown trees again. I don't know there? It's a tricky business.
=

There is one thing though, the faster growing woods will make bad planks (bending) and so furniture, if I remember right. So there might be a higher probability that it will be used as fuel?
« Last Edit: 26/12/2013 02:27:41 by yor_on »
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #8 on: 26/12/2013 06:26:58 »
The older trees are still putting on some wood.
Consider a tree, 3" in diameter, and 10 feet tall, perhaps with 1/4" growth rings.
Vs a tree that is 4' in diameter, 12' in circumference.  100 foot tall, with 1/32" growth rings.  The big old tree may still be putting on quite a bit of wood.

Of course, you might have more little trees in a clearcut than big trees in an old growth or climax forest.
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4708
  • Thanked: 153 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #9 on: 26/12/2013 09:00:37 »
It's more of looking at it another way I guess, and different trees should sequester carbon differently.
I think foresters know this.
 
Quote
There is one thing though, the faster growing woods will make bad planks (bending) and so furniture, if I remember right. So there might be a higher probability that it will be used as fuel?
Again, carpenters and energy suppliers do specify their materials quite carefully. Trunk oak makes great furniture, churches and ships, but is very difficult (and expensive) to turn into fuel pellets. Birch ply is a lot stiffer than single grain softwood, so makes excellent cheap furniture and lightweight aeroplane parts. Very fast growing softwood makes adequately rigid chipboard and fibreboard, or indeed fuel.
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11993
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #10 on: 26/12/2013 13:10:56 »
I don't think it is that simple Alan, to know how this sequestering works practically. Saw this one just now   http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/news/articles/2013/1024plantecology.php   about 'ecosystem dynamics of Amazonian and Andean forests.' And maybe take a look at http://scitechdaily.com/shedding-light-on-the-role-of-forests-in-carbon-sequestration/   first, as it is forests we discuss.

And then we have marine biological organisms, as plankton and their shells. We also have all sorts of seaweed etc in the oceans. And it all comes together into one world interacting with itself and space. Don't think we have any perfect models for all this.
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4708
  • Thanked: 153 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #11 on: 27/12/2013 00:43:23 »
No need for comprehensive models. The original question was about trees consuming CO2. All the carbon in a tree comes from the atmosphere, and foresters know exactly what gain in dry weight to expect from any particular species at any stage in its development, so the answer is known. The subsidiary question of how long does that carbon remain sequestered depends entirely on what you do with the tree: anything from minutes in the case of biofuel to millions of years in the case of mined coal deposits, or for ever if you don't mine the coal.

What interests Joe Public nowadays is the re-release of plant carbon by animals. When the temperature rises, insects and other coldblooded creatures become more active and exhale CO2 derived from plant material. Hence the observed historic (and current) variation of CO2 concentration with temperature.     
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11993
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #12 on: 27/12/2013 01:42:45 »
That may be Alan, assuming one know all parameters regarding a tree, its speed of growth, soil, sun, rain, humidity, and whatever else that may come into play? But I don't think we have those figures on a individual basis normally, outside of a lab environment? I would expect generalizations, estimates based on statistics when people discuss it. Climate science is on the whole fairly new I think, even though we understand the role of photosynthesis.
=

As for the last comment, would you have a link to what you're referring?
=

Found a description of how to calculate amount of CO2 sequestered in a tree, per year.
http://www.broward.org/NaturalResources/ClimateChange/Documents/Calculating%20CO2%20Sequestration%20by%20Trees.pdf

Now, they seem to agree with me, but then also with you :)
« Last Edit: 27/12/2013 01:59:41 by yor_on »
 

Offline fries

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #13 on: 03/01/2014 22:22:43 »
Hi, I have a question.  I was wondering what reputable source found that mature grasslands sequester 2400-3600lb of C/acre per year?  Also, are there any sources that give estimates on other land types and their average rates of carbon sequestration per (hectare, acre, etc..) per year? 

There are lots of studies about their potential ability to store, but I am looking for what different land types sequester naturally.  I recognize the potential for variability, but was hopeful to find some roughly, average, estimated data.

Thank you
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8664
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #14 on: 04/01/2014 12:24:57 »
Did nobody look at the numbers?
"I know 1 mature tree can store 48 lbs CO2 per year and give 260 lbs O2 per tree per year "
The big problem there is that 260 is bigger than 48.

If I said I took 48 pounds of ore and extracted 260 pounds of metal from it, would anyone take me seriously?
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4708
  • Thanked: 153 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #15 on: 04/01/2014 14:56:24 »
There's a difference between turnover and surplus in any business.

Quite a lot of carbon goes into making seeds, leaves and twigs which fall off (expenditure) leaving a little to be sequestered as trunk growth (reinvested profit) and a fair quantity of oxygen (tax!). A mature private company may not worry too much about reinvestment as long as the workers, shareholders and tax man are happy with their take. 
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8664
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #16 on: 04/01/2014 16:35:33 »
48 lbs of CO2 only contains 35 lbs of oxygen. The other 13lbs is carbon and roughly speaking that will create about 32.5 lbs of timber (calculated as cellulose).
Two things can happen to that timber. It can be incorporated into the tree, or it can be lost.
If it's lost as leaves then they decay and take up the equivalent amount of oxygen anyway.

Where does the rest of this magical O2 come from?
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11993
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #17 on: 06/01/2014 04:32:24 »
You're perfectly correct, I definitely missed to check his numbers and taken together they make no sense to me either. I'll blame it on me being to lazy to convert it into meaningful numbers, as kg, for me. But the pdf gives a estimate in the same eh, indecipherable terminology. I now looked at lbs and found it to be a pound? 0.453592 kg.

So what he suggest is that  "1 mature tree can store 21,772416 kg CO2 per year and give 118 kg O2 per tree per year," right?

The first number seems to come from  "A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs./year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings."

- McAliney, Mike. Arguments for Land Conservation: Documentation and Information Sources for Land Resources Protection, Trust for Public Land, Sacramento, CA, December, 1993

How correct that is? Depends on what tree, I would guess? and the soil, and the weather locally. Then we have using kg:s O2, instead of using liters? One kg oxygen is about 700 liter so converting it to liter that will make 118 x 700 = 82600 liter oxygen if I got it right.

And then there is the question of what a weight means here, the dry weight of a tree is what's used in the pdf and that is apparently about 72.5 times its weigh, growing in its natural 'wet' state. To get to the carbon content you multiply that dry weight (in kg:s, please) by 50% and there kg seems a good choice too.

But the first number seems plausible, the second? 82600 liter per tree, per year, right? Divide with 365 and we get... 226.3 liters per day.... (all depending on if I'm doing the conversions correctly here:). So, how much oxygen is produced by one tree, per day? I don't know really? It's a complicated question it seems. Take a look here http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_oxygen_does_one_tree_produce

Ok, but how much would a average human consume per day then? That one seems possible to answer.

"Somewhere between 500-600 liters of oxygen (at 1 atm pressure) a day. That may sound like a lot, but there are only 1.42 grams of oxygen/liter at 0C, 1ATM. So that's only 710-852g/day. Or, a pound and a half to just under two pounds/day." is one answer

So assuming that the first statement is correct, and one tree is able to sustain oxygen for two persons, per year, then assuming that those use between 1000 to 1200 liters oxygen per day, then one mature tree should produce the same amount, possibly?

And I'm getting a headache :)

Arrggh.
1100 liters x 365 = 401500 liters per year.. doesn't add up to me?

(And I definitely lost myself, doing all those conversions)
==

Ok, found the other statement too.

"On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four." 

- Environment Canada, Canada's national environmental agency

Ah well..

« Last Edit: 06/01/2014 05:30:50 by yor_on »
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #18 on: 06/01/2014 06:38:00 »
Did nobody look at the numbers?
"I know 1 mature tree can store 48 lbs CO2 per year and give 260 lbs O2 per tree per year "
The big problem there is that 260 is bigger than 48.
See my first reply.

I assume the author meant that the tree stores about 48 pounds of carbon.
And releases 260 lbs of oxygen. 

Don't forget that the equation is:
CO2 + H2O --> Hydrocarbons + Carbohydrates + Oxygen, however you choose to balance it.  Perhaps that is still off a bit.

But, it is about 3 oxygen atoms (AW 16) released for every carbon atom (AW 12) incorporated into pure hydrocarbons.  A bit less oxygen released for carbon incorporated into cellulose.
Hmm, with the 3:1 ratio, one still gets: 3*16*48/12 = 192    (48lbs Carbon incorporated ==> 192lbs Oxygen released).

How thick is a typical growth ring on a mature tree?  I suppose a lot of it depends on the tree.  A Douglas Fir, Juniper, or Bristlecone Pine have quite different growth characteristics.  Even the definition of a "Mature" tree is ambiguous, and would also depend on whether it is in a dense forest, or isolated.

For a "Mature" Doug Fir:
Consider 1/32" growth rings.
Let's consider a cone,
4' at the base, 100' tall. 
Surface area of a bottomless cone is
πrs, with s the length of side.
So we get about 628 square feet of new growth, or about 20 cubic feet (for 1/32" growth rings).
About 30 lbs per cubic foot density (dry?)
And, it comes up with about 600 lbs new growth a year (trunk wood). 

I suppose we're somewhere in the ballpark.

It might be a bit higher if you're calculating for a Sequoia or Redwood.  A bit less for a mature bristlecone pine or juniper tree.
« Last Edit: 06/01/2014 06:42:26 by CliffordK »
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4708
  • Thanked: 153 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #19 on: 06/01/2014 08:10:03 »
If it's lost as leaves then they decay and take up the equivalent amount of oxygen anyway.

Not true. Most decay is anerobic (the sludge at the bottom of the leaf pile). Conversion of plant material to CO2 is mostly done by larger animals: this is called life on earth, and is the fault of god, not the tree.
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4708
  • Thanked: 153 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #20 on: 06/01/2014 08:12:07 »
Did nobody look at the numbers?
"I know 1 mature tree can store 48 lbs CO2 per year and give 260 lbs O2 per tree per year "
The big problem there is that 260 is bigger than 48.
See my first reply.

I assume the author meant that the tree stores about 48 pounds of carbon.
And releases 260 lbs of oxygen. 

That is indeed what he said, and it makes perfect sense.
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4708
  • Thanked: 153 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #21 on: 06/01/2014 08:22:07 »
Quote
"Somewhere between 500-600 liters of oxygen (at 1 atm pressure) a day. That may sound like a lot, but there are only 1.42 grams of oxygen/liter at 0C, 1ATM. So that's only 710-852g/day. Or, a pound and a half to just under two pounds/day." is one answer

Or just over 1 kg of CO2 exhaled per day per human. Multiply by 9 x 10^9 and you find that humans contribute a massive 10 megatonnes of carbon dioxide to global warming (or is it climate change these days) every day even if they don't use fossil fuels. Shocking, isn't it? 
 

Offline peppercorn

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1466
    • View Profile
    • solar
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #22 on: 06/01/2014 14:36:03 »
Or just over 1 kg of CO2 exhaled per day per human. Multiply by 9 x 10^9 and you find that humans contribute a massive 10 megatonnes of carbon dioxide to global warming (or is it climate change these days) every day even if they don't use fossil fuels. Shocking, isn't it? 

But this is not 'new' CO2 is it.  I'm sure that you wouldn't want to give the impression that just through respiration, humans (or any other animals for that matter) cause an inherent increase in the amount of 'free' CO2 in the atmosphere (and ecosystem as whole), would you?

Increased numbers of humans are in no way directly, by breathing, putting any more CO2 into the system. Instead, so far as 'just staying alive' goes, modern agriculture relies on unlocking fossil carbon - by using hydrocarbons to drive the Haber–Bosch process of making fertilizers.

Prior to this process becoming commercialised, there was obviously very little opportunity for stored, fossil carbon to re-enter the system. But, and this may be your pooint, there was no practical way to support the billions of people we have living on the planet today.
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11993
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #23 on: 06/01/2014 15:22:33 »
I agree with BC that the numbers doesn't add up. But we have two separate sources saying the same here. Well, almost separate, after all, Canada and America are neighbors. The one putting those numbers into question is the one in where I found a human to use 500-600 liters per day, using that there's a big discrepancy between what a tree is expected to release compared to what we breath in and out. A tree releasing 226 liters, more or less, of oxygen, with a human consuming 5-600 liters that same day. Using that it seems to need two trees per human, per day? Could be my conversions, it was late, but, I don't think it is.
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11993
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #24 on: 06/01/2014 15:44:25 »
The confusion seem to raise from that we can define the oxygen halt in the atmosphere, taking samples of it, all over the world on a daily basis.

"The Scripps O2 Program measures changes in atmospheric oxygen levels from air samples collected at stations around the world. This sampling network provides a global and hemispheric perspective on oxygen variability. The Scripps O2 Program is based at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at La Jolla, California and is under the direction of Professor Ralph Keeling." http://scrippso2.ucsd.edu/

That gives us good, and reliant statistics over it. But what it doesn't, is to pinpoint what 'individuals' that create and consume it. So you can get good statistics over a large area, without being able to define each tree. Or Plankton.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: How much CO2 does a tree consume per year?
« Reply #24 on: 06/01/2014 15:44:25 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums