A new feedback mechanism linking forests, aerosols, and climate
The possible connections between the carbon balance of ecosystems and aerosol-cloud-climate interactions play a significant role in climate change studies. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, whereas the net effect of atmospheric aerosols is to cool the climate. Here, we investigated the connection between forest-atmosphere carbon exchange and aerosol dynamics in the continental boundary layer by means of multiannual data sets of particle formation and growth rates, of CO2 fluxes, and of monoterpene concentrations in a Scots pine forest in southern Finland. We suggest a new, interesting link and a potentially important feedback among forest ecosystem functioning, aerosols, and climate: Considering that globally increasing temperatures and CO2 fertilization are likely to lead to increased photosynthesis and forest growth, an increase in forest biomass would increase emissions of non-methane biogenic volatile organic compounds and thereby enhance organic aerosol production. This feedback mechanism couples the climate effect of CO2 with that of aerosols in a novel way.