July 1, 2008

Submerged Trees Reduce Global Warming

U.S. scientists say they've discovered submerged trees have the potential to be used as carbon credits since they can store carbon for thousands of years.

University of Missouri researchers discovered trees submerged in freshwater aquatic systems store carbon for significantly longer than trees that fall in a forest.

If a tree is submerged in water, its carbon will be stored for an average of 2,000 years, said Associate Professor Richard Guyette, director of the university's Tree Ring Laboratory. If a tree falls in a forest, that number is reduced to an average of 20 years, and in firewood, the carbon is only stored for one year.

The team studied trees in northern Missouri, an area with a high number of riparian forests -- forests with natural water flowing through them. They discovered submerged oak trees as old as 14,000 years, potentially some of the oldest in the world.

Farmers can sell the carbon they have stored in their trees through a carbon credit stock market, Guyette said. Companies that emit excess of carbon would be able to buy carbon credits to offset their pollution.

The study was published in the journal Ecosystems.