Beth Buczynski

Study Shows Christmas Trees Suck Up Super Potent Greenhouse Gas

by , 12/18/13

christmas tree, climate change, spruce, fir, pine, birch, Sweden, Lund University, methane, greenhouse gasesChristmas tree photo from Shutterstock

Researchers at Lund University and Stockholm University in Sweden discovered that spruces, pines, and firs are exceptionally adept at absorbing methane, a greenhouse gas that’s about 25 times more harmful as carbon dioxide. Previous studies speculated that these types of trees actually emitted methane, but this study suggests that trees might be rising to the challenge, actually sucking methane out of the atmosphere in addition to carbon dioxide. If accurate, the study makes yet another case for protecting existing forests, planting more spruce, pines, and firs, and not cutting them down for use as Christmas trees!

christmas tree, climate change, spruce, fir, pine, birch, Sweden, Lund University, methane, greenhouse gasesConiferous forest photo from Shutterstock

Previous studies measuring with atmospheric methane levels suggested that so-called hotspots were actually disappearing. These studies speculated that this could be because of reduced fossil fuel usage (um, not likely), or fewer microbes making methane in the Northern hemisphere. The current research, led by Elin Sundqvist and colleagues, offers a third explanation: christmas trees could be actively soaking up methane.

The researchers reached this conclusion after conducting controlled forest and laboratory measurements and analysis of the gases being exchanged by tree branches of pine, spruce and birch trees under a variety of conditions. “Our results offer a third explanation: that an increasing amount of CH4 has been taken up by vegetation during the last decades as a consequence of increased greenness,” states Sundqvist in the study. In other words, trees are working harder to absorb more methane from the atmosphere.

Of course, cut Christmas trees are only barely alive, so their methane sucking days are numbered. Living trees are the real heroes, doing their best to offset the vast amount of harmful pollution we send up into the atmosphere on a daily basis. It’s yet another reason to consider a truly living tree that can be planted in the yard to continue the good work once the holidays are through.

Via Discovery News

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2 Comments

  1. speshalkay December 19, 2013 at 5:16 am

    I was a kitchen designer for 14 years with various companies at various prices. I loved it! It’s amazing how kitchens changed. One kitchen company advert from the 60′s said “you can stand in the middle of the room and touch every cupboard!”
    How times change.

    A well designed kitchen makes it a pleasure to cook.

  2. admin253344 December 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Cut trees are still better than fake trees. Christmas tree farms make their living off growing these trees, and if no one was buying cut Christmas trees (and opting for fake because unfortunately not everyone has the space/time to plant and care for a live tree) these farms would go out of business, and they would either plant something else that didn\’t take up as much pollutants, or the land could possibly be built on. Obviously living trees, and allowing forests and trees to mature is the best option, but don\’t hate on christmas tree farms that survive on cut trees to make their profits. They are much more environmentally friendly than other christmas tree options out there.

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