Research Paper on Isotopic Approaches in Global Change Ecology

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  1952 Words
Date:  2022-03-16


There are a lot of issues concerning the environment faced by our modern society. Global warming is one of the problems facing our world today. To understand global warming one must understand the greenhouse effect which is the usual process in which the earth is warmed. Once the suns energy reaches the ground, some amount of the energy is bounced back into space, and the remaining energy is emitted by greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and fluorinated gases. Human activities facilitate most of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. The most popular way in which these gases can be produced include; burning of fossils such as natural gas, coals, chemicals, and other pollutants. Isotopes of gases such as carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen have effects on plants and also food web due to the increase of global warming. Some isotopes have little effects on these plants and food webs due to global warming because they exist in a small amount into the atmosphere. Due to these isotopes, there is the reduction of plant diversity, the vanishing of phytoplankton and also reduction of oxygen into the atmosphere which may lead to the death of human being and animals thus destroying the food web (Oschlies, Brandt, Stramma, & Schmidtko, 2018).This paper will focus on the way various isotopic systems determines the effects of global warming to plants.

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Carbon Isotopic System Shows the Effects of Global Warming to Plants

Human activities have led to the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leading to various forms of carbon in the air. The carbon atom has different isotopes. Carbon 13 tends to have 7 neurons, and carbon 12 has 6 neutrons. The ratio of C13/C12 to the plants is usually lower in the atmosphere (Anderson, Hawkins, & Jones, 2016). Most plants tend to favor c12 over c13 when chemical processes taking place in photosynthesis are involved making the plants to contain a small ratio of C13 to C12 that is usually found in the atmosphere. Fossil fuels are gotten from dead plant matter like oil which includes a small ration of C13 as compared to C12. When these fossils are burnt, carbon which is released in the atmosphere has more C12 than the C13. Due to this difference, there is a change in the level of naturally occurring carbon isotope in the air.

The ratio of C13 to C12 have significantly reduced in recent years due to the burning of fossils which has led to an increase of the carbon -12 in the atmosphere leading to the rise in the atmospheric temperatures thus causing global warming. Some scientists argue that an increase in carbon -12 will have no effects on the plants because they are taking more carbon than they used to make before. This is because there are higher rates of photosynthesis in vegetation due to an increase of carbon-12 in the earth's atmosphere as plants prefer it than carbon -13. According to researchers guided by Scripps institution of the oceanography at the University of California San Diego have realized that the change has developed in the behavior of the plant in the past 40 years through the use of measurements of subtle variations in the carbon dioxide which is found in the earth's atmosphere.

Plants behave differently when exposed to high levels of carbon dioxide because the level of their stomata is influenced by CO2 (small holes that allow the uptake of water or CO2). When there is a high amount of carbon in the atmosphere the plants allow opening of few stomata thus enhancing photosynthesis to take place at the time losing less amount of water. Stoma allows water to evaporate into the atmosphere and therefore the plant must draw water from the leaves to avoid drying out (Darwin, 2017). This denounces the theory that under greater levels of carbon dioxide plants tends to absorb more water from the soils. Due to increased efficiency, they become more selective to carbon-12 due to change in their stomata. According to these findings, there are proportional adjustments of plants due to the increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If the plant flourishes and increases around the world as the level of carbon dioxide increases, it will help in offsetting the amount of carbon omitted by taking in a large amount of carbon -12. Although the new study suggests the adaptation of the plant under high levels of carbon dioxide, scientist caution that high carbon levels are not crucial to the global vegetation. Global temperatures increase due to an amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and in the warm regions, the conditions may eventually become too dry or hot for the plant to tolerate thus ending up dying. Death of plants destroys the food web because they are the primary source which means that many of the inhabitants may be eliminated in the earth. Carbon 4 plants will not increase their photosynthesis rates when the amount of carbon dioxide is increased.

Nitrogen Isotopic System Shows the Effects of Global Warming to Plant

According to researchers from the University of Washington and Brown University, there was considerable variance in nitrogen isotope ratios that dropped between the years 1951-1980 due to increased emissions of fossil fuel. The ratio of the natural nitrogen -14 isotope to that of nitrogen -15 isotope have changed from the past during the industrial era to date and also due to using of fertilizer in agriculture( Fibiger & Hastings, 2016). Due to this, there is a change in the nitrogen cycle globally. A form of nitrogen isotopes like the nitrogen oxide may have global warming effects because they trap heat in the atmosphere. It is not well known if the number of nitrogen isotopes may have an impact on cooling or warming the global climate. This because they trap heat at the upper atmosphere creating hazes and clouds which end up reflecting solar radiation into the atmosphere that collects and confiscate the greenhouse gases. These hazes are more dangerous compared to the carbon dioxide that makes it challenging to manage nitrogen isotopes well. It may be difficult for farmers to raise their crops due to extreme weather conditions that end up driving the fertilizers away. Due to nitrogen contained in the fertilizers, it reflects that nitrogen isotopes and the change in climate are increasing the possibilities for destroying the world around us. Due to change in weather, a lot of nitrogen may end up in waterways and rivers leading to pollution. Due to increased rainfall and warmer temperatures, there will be an increase in toxic blue-green algae because of its blooms at the surface of water bodies which have become widespread in the current years (Anneville, Domaizon, Kerimoglu, Rimet & Jacquet, 2015). For instance, algae have bloomed in the western end of Lake Erie making Ohio not to supply water to more than 50000 residents in 2014. This toxics have led to an increase in the mortality rate of animals and later covering the waters containing them. Therefore this process leads to the destruction of the food webs due to the rise in mortality of these animals.

Also, the isotonic nitrogen system can lead to a reduction of plant diversity since they can displace native species that are adapted to soils having poor nutrients. According to the study conducted by the proceeding of the national academy of science more than 15'000 woodland, grassland, shrubland and forest site through the United States they found out that almost quarter of these plants had exceeded the level of nitrogen required thus leading to the loss of the plant. Researchers have no idea on how the increase of nitrogen isotope will affect the plant diversity but according to an experiment conducted in arid southern California habitat changing rainfall patterns and nitrogen- 15 initiated a group of native shrubs to switch to non- native grasses (Anneville et al., 2015). Due to nitrogen isotope, there is climate change which has led to deaths of animals consuming water poisoned by blue-green algae leading to the destruction of the food web and the plant diversity as there is an increased amount of nitrogen in the soil which the plants cannot cope with.

Oxygen Isotopic System Shows the Effects of Global Warming to Plants

The stable oxygen contains 8 neutrons and 8 protons making it have 16 isotones while a small portion of oxygen contains 8 protons and 10 neutrons making it to total to 18 isotopes. The relative quantity of O18 will rise in ocean water surface during the warm period due to evaporation of O16 to the atmosphere. Oxygen will also be emitted into the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Due to global warming, it will lead to the fall of the amount of oxygen isotopes concentration in the oceans. This could cause disastrous significances for the ocean ecosystem because most of these will be suffocated leading to their deaths. Currently, lowering of the oxygen isotopes is caused by geophysical and hydrological factors since there is low solubility of oxygen due to warmer water caused by global warming. Phytoplankton and algae that mostly produces food for other marine thrive better in cooler oceans because they use photosynthesis for nutrients (Leip et al, 2015). But due to ocean warming, these plants are vanishing; thus they cannot produce foods for marine life through photosynthesis. The nutrient is unable to travel upwards to the supplier due to ocean becoming warmer making it difficult for those who survive only in a small surface layer of the sea. Due to lack of these nutrients, algae mad phytoplankton cannot support the marine animals with the required oxygen and organic carbon leading to a destruction of the food web.

Therefore, it is not a heat-trapping gas, but its accumulation in the atmosphere affects the amount of oxygen that gets into the earth surface. According to the new models, the oxygen effects had altered the climate in the past. Global oxygen scale is impacted negatively due to disruption of production of oxygen isotopes by phytoplankton. They produce oxygen in their cell which is diffused into the ocean water (Laffoley & Baxter, 2016). A large amount of the dissolved oxygen enters into the atmosphere through the ocean surface; thus they contribute to the global oxygen budget. According to the study's half of the atmospheric, oxygen is produced by the phytoplankton photosynthesis. If this production is stopped due to the effect of global warming, the amount of oxygen which is needed in the earth surface will fall more than twice affecting the fauna and flora.

Hydrogen Isotopic System Shows the Effects of Global Warming to Plant

Hydrogen has three isotopes 1H, 2 H, 3 H where 3 H is the stable hydrogen. H2 (hydrogen gas) is more abundant as compared to other hydrogen isotopes. Its effects are similar to that of carbon isotopes because it acts as subsidiary greenhouse gas due to its impact on the hydroxyl radicals. Due to the reduction of the hydroxyl radicals, the lifetime of some greenhouse gases such as methane is increased by hydrogen. Oxidation of methane leads to the production of hydrogen into the atmosphere with the total emission projected to be about 70 million tons each year. But this hydrogen gas is removed from the atmosphere through its reaction with hydroxyl but also a range amount is taken up by a soil microorganism. Hydrogen caused due to global warming can be of vital importance to higher plants. According to China researchers, hydrogen has an essential role in regulating the effect of plant physiological function. Most importantly it plays the role of helping the plant to resist abiotic stress. The study shows that it has an impact on rice, mung bean, and alfalfa seed germination.

Researchers at the Southern China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Second Military Medical University in S...

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