Rising Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide: Plants FACE the future

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Atmospheric CO2 concentration ([CO2]) is now higher than it was at any time in the past 26 million years and is expected to nearly double during this century. Terrestrial plants with the C3 photosynthetic pathway respond in the short term to increased [CO2] via increased net photosynthesis and decreased transpiration. In the longer term this increase is often offset by downregulation of photosynthetic capacity. But much of what is currently known about plant responses to elevated [CO 2] comes from enclosure studies, where the responses of plants may be modified by size constraints and the limited life-cycle stages that are examined. Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) was developed as a means to grow plants in the field at controlled elevation of CO2 under fully open-air field conditions. The findings of FACE experiments are quantitatively summarized via meta-analytic statistics and compared to findings from chamber studies. Although trends agree with parallel summaries of enclosure studies, important quantitative differences emerge that have important implications both for predicting the future terrestrial biosphere and understanding how crops may need to be adapted to the changed and changing atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-628
Number of pages38
JournalAnnual Review of Plant Biology
StatePublished - 2004


  • Atmospheric change
  • Free-air carbon dioxide enrichment
  • Global change
  • Leaf area
  • Meta-analysis
  • Photosynthesis
  • Rubisco
  • Stomata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Rising Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide: Plants FACE the future'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this