Arctic Warming: How might climate change effect the growth of tundra plants?
Tuesday March 23rd
Room 417 Schermerhorn Hall
Summary: How do Arctic plants cope with the harsh environmental conditions that they experience? During the short (~75 day) Arctic growing season, temperatures are cool and quite variable, the soil is frozen not far below the surface, and the sun never sets! Despite these challenges and the relatively small stature of the plant communities, over the last tens of thousands of years these ecosystems have locked away as much carbon in their frozen soils as currently exists as CO2 in the atmosphere. Today the Arctic is experiencing dramatic warming and important widespread ecological changes are being observed. We would like to understand how plant respiration, which returns carbon to the atmosphere, responds both to the unusual arctic condition of constant daylight during the growing season and to the rapidly changing climate. I will present results, collected by myself and several Columbia University students, at the Toolik Lake Long-Term Ecological Research Site, located on the North Slope of the Brooks Range in the Alaskan Arctic.
Associate Professor Kevin Griffin's areas of research include plant respiration, global carbon cycle, and forest ecology. The objective of much of his research is to explain processes in plant and ecosystem ecology in terms of the physiological, biochemical and biophysical processes involved. The long-term goal is to increase understanding of both the role of the Earth's vegetation in the global carbon cycle and the interactions between the carbon cycle and the Earth's climate system. Some of the locations where Professor Griffin has conducted research include New Zealand, Black Rock Forest (in nearby Cornwall, NY) and Alaska. Kevin heads the Torrey Plant Physiological Ecology Lab at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and is Co-director of the new undergraduate major in Sustainable Developement.
Kevin received his B.A. in Environmental Studies from Whittier College, an M.E.S. from Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and his Ph.D. in Botany from Duke University.
Future talks are scheduled for Tuesdays from 12:15-1:00pm in Room 417 Schermerhorn Hall. Attendees are welcome to bring their lunch.
All are welcome to attend!