UI researchers help to improve carbon measurements in global climate studies

University of Iowa researchers and their colleagues have found a way to improve existing estimates of the amount of carbon absorbed by plants from the air, thereby improving the accuracy of global warming and land cover change estimates, according to a paper published in the Nov. 13 issue of the journal Science.

By knowing the effects of plants on the atmosphere, scientists will be better able to determine the amount of human-generated carbon dioxide (CO2) injected into the atmosphere, according to Greg Carmichael, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering in the UI College of Engineering and co-director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER).

“This work demonstrates a technique to get a direct estimate of the photosynthetic uptake by plants over large regions,” he said. “This is critical because in the carbon budget analysis we need to be able to quantify the various sources of carbon dioxide, especially the carbon dioxide from anthropogenic activities and the uptake of carbon dioxide by plants.

“Both are needed if we are to come up with better management strategies in reducing manmade emissions and in the case of plants increasing their carbon uptake,” said Carmichael, who was named in September to a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study on the significance of the international transport of air pollutants. Continue Reading »

Prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke can increase levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine and enzymes in the heart that have the potential to reshape the left ventricle, according to new research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In a study using rats as as animal model, five weeks exposure to cigarette smoke was associated with the activation of enzymes called mitogen-activated protein kinases that govern cell growth and survival in heart muscle. Activation of these enzymes may be a key event in cigarette smoke-induced heart injury, says Mariann Piano, professor of biobehavioral health science in the UIC College of Nursing and lead researcher of the study.

Heart disease probably develops as a result of complex interactions among many elements in cigarette smoke, she said. Continue Reading »