Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide: Tree Ring Evidence for Growth Enhancement in Natural Vegetation

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Science  07 Sep 1984:
Vol. 225, Issue 4666, pp. 1019-1021
DOI: 10.1126/science.225.4666.1019


A response of plant growth to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, which has been anticipated from laboratory data, may now have been detected in the annual rings of subalpine conifers growing in the western United States. Experimental evidence shows that carbon dioxide can be an important limiting factor in the growth of plants in this high-altitude environment. The greatly increased tree growth rates observed since the mid-l9th century exceed those expected from climatic trends but are consistent in magnitude with global trends in carbon dioxide, especially in recent decades. If correctly interpreted, these findings have important implications for climate studies involving tree ring observations and for models of the global carbon dioxide budget.