Show Details

Tree Carbon

September 4, 2007

A listener asks: Which trees are more effective at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, conifers or deciduous trees?


Cooling the planet one tree at a time. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If you want to slow down global warming, plant a tree. That’s because trees remove the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into wood as they grow. Listener Ginger Marel of Issaquah, Washington wrote to ask which kinds of trees are more efficient at absorbing CO2 – deciduous trees or conifers. We turned to climate scientist Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution.

KEN CALDEIRA (Carnegie Institution):
For trees of the same size, deciduous trees like oaks tend to absorb about 50% more carbon than a conifer like a pine tree.

That’s because deciduous trees have denser wood than conifers and need that extra carbon to maintain their structure. If you have a science question, call us at 1-800-why-isit. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.