Global Warming Could Trigger The Release Of 55 Billion Tons Of Carbon From Earth Soil By 2050

Posted: Dec 3 2016, 5:15am CST | by , Updated: Dec 3 2016, 5:19am CST , in Latest Science News


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Global Warming could Trigger the Release of 55 Billion Tons of Carbon from Earth Soil by 2050
Credit: University of Minnesota

A new analysis has found that warming temperatures can release billions of tons of carbon trapped inside the Earth soil and can accelerate the pace of climate change

A huge amount of carbon dioxide that is locked up inside the ground will escape if global warming continues. And this will push the planet's climate change beyond the point of no-return.

Carbon dioxide is not just floating in the atmosphere or stored in the oceans, it is also trapped inside the Earth soil, which is the second largest reservoir oft the greenhouse gases after the oceans.

It has been long speculated that rising global temperatures might reduce the ability of soil to store carbon in its plants and roots, which in turn, will increase the atmospheric carbon concentration and accelerate the pace of climate change.

Now, a new global analysis finds that warming temperatures will actually cause to release billions of tons of carbon from planet’s soil into its atmosphere. Critically, the potential soil carbon losses will be largely driven by world’s coldest places at high altitudes, which have been mostly overlooked in the previous researches. The colder places are generally considered a secure stock of carbon dioxide due to less microbial activity but the increase in global temperature will possibly affect their ability to contain carbon emissions.

Based on the examination of 49 soils across the globe, researchers have found that the projected rise of 2 degree Celsius will trigger the release of 55 billion tons of carbon from soil by 2050, which is 17 percent more than current estimations. The carbon emissions would be equal to the size of the country like United States and thus have a big impact on climate change acceleration.

“Carbon stores are greatest in places like the Arctic and sub-Arctic, where the soil is cold and often frozen. In those conditions microbes are less active and so carbon has been allowed to build up over many centuries. But as you start to warm, the activities of those microbes increase and that’s when the losses start to happen. The scary thing is, these cold regions are the places that are expected to warm the most under climate change.” Lead researcher Thomas Crowther, who was a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies at the time of research explained.

The results are based on the basis of soil studies conducted in various parts of world including North America and Europe. While most of the previous researches were focused on the temperate regions but the latest study has taken into account colder places as well and came up with surprising findings.

“Getting a handle on these kinds of feedbacks globally is essential if we’re going to make meaningful projections about future climate conditions,” said Crowther. “Only than we can generate realistic greenhouse gas emission targets that are effective at limiting climate change.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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