CO2 Overload Causing Forests To Lose Ability To Absorb Carbon

The Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Credit: Getty Images

At the moment, plants remove about three gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, as humans pump out over 11 gigatons. The balance is way out of scale. Planting more trees will help, but it likely will not be enough. Now, scientists discover that the world’s tropical forests are quickly losing their ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere, worrying experts that a significant carbon sink will turn into a carbon source.

The research, published in Nature on March 4th, found that the Amazon could turn into a carbon source by 2035 due to wildfires, deforestation, and greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

For 30 years in the African tropics and the Amazon, an international association of African and European scientists led by experts from the University of Leeds studied more than 300,000 trees. The team found that the traditional climate models that predict tropical forests will serve as carbon sinks for years to come are inaccurate. Instead, the uptake of carbon into the world’s tropical forests peaked in the 1990s, according to the University of Leeds. Read more…

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