China’s New Climate Center Welcomes Citizen Scientists

September 24, 2009
News Release

The China Regional Climate Center, the newest of five international sites where volunteers work side by side with scientists to conduct the world’s largest experiment on the effects of climate change on forests, opened Sept. 22. The HSBC Climate Partnership, a collaboration between HSBC bank, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Earthwatch Institute, World Wildlife Fund and the Climate Group, has regional climate centers in India, England, Brazil and the United States. 

Earthwatch and the Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academy of Sciences host HSBC bank employees as they travel to Gutianshan National Nature Reserve in eastern China to measure trees using techniques developed by the Center for Tropical Forest Science. Tree growth is one of the best indicators of the quantity of carbon that trees absorb from the atmosphere.

The CTFS, a network of 34 independent long-term forest study sites coordinated by STRI and Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, began as an experiment to understand tropical biodiversity nearly30 years ago in Panama, and it is now the best tool available to understand on-the-ground effects of global change on forests. Scientists use a standard method to measure more than 3 million trees representing 8,000 species to see how the forest reacts to changes in temperature, carbon dioxide levels and other constantly changing environmental variables.

In 2005, Ma Keping and colleagues from the Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academy of Sciences set up a long-term forest monitoring site in Gutianshan National Nature Reserve in the Yangtze valley. Gutianshan’s subtropical, evergreen trees grow on steeply sloping terrain. Relatively little is known about the response of subtropical forest to climate change.

“It is extremely rewarding to collaborate with scientists in China and with HSBC volunteers as we begin to comprehend the effects of climate change on forest dynamics around the world,” said Stuart Davies, CTFS director.

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Information about the forest dynamics plot site in Gutianshan, China
http://www.ctfs.si.edu/site/Gutianshan

Earthwatch Institute information about the China Regional Climate Center
http://www.earthwatch.org/europe/rcc_china

SI-416-2009

Media Only

Beth King

(202) 633-4700 x 28216

kingb@si.edu

Monica Alvarado

(703) 487-3772, ext. 8023

alvaradom@si.edu