Archive by category | Biosphere feedbacks

Warming speeds carbon release from peat

Warming speeds carbon release from peat

Northern peatlands, typical for subarctic Scandinavia and Russia, contain one third of the world’s soil organic carbon. How much extra carbon these soils will release to the atmosphere, through accelerated respiration in a warmer climate, has been pretty much guesswork. Data from an eight-year in situ experiment carried out in Sweden now suggest that even modest warming will release enough extra carbon to effectively equalize the European Union’s emissions reductions achieved under the Kyoto Protocol.  Read more

Plant power

Why carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 24 million years or so have never dropped below 200 parts per million, despite environmental conditions that have been favourable for CO2 drawdown by rock weathering and sedimentation, has always been a bit of a mystery.  Read more

EGU: China’s carbon sink – it’s large

EGU: China’s carbon sink – it’s large

China’s forests, shrublands and soils have absorbed a third or so of China’s fossil fuel emissions from 1980 to 2000. Sequestering up to 260 million tonnes of carbon per year, the Chinese land sink is more than twice as large than that of geographic Europe, and comparable in size to that of the United States.  Read more

Tropical forests: From sink to source?

Tropical forests: From sink to source?

The Earth’s large forests take up substantially more atmospheric carbon dioxide through photosynthesis than they release back to the atmosphere through respiration. Thus acting as a carbon ‘sink’, they (and the oceans) are our closest natural allies in the fight against climate change.  Read more

Jungle Fit!

“Lewis.jpg”Tropical forests which (still) cover around 10% of the global land area contain more carbon per hectare than any other form of vegetation. It’s obvious from that that their growth or decline has a huge impact on the global carbon budget.  Read more

New Arctic feedback: vicious peat circles

New Arctic feedback: vicious peat circles

Researchers have discovered new hot spots for emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide: barren patches of peat dotted across northern tundra. And warming in the Arctic – just as it threatens to multiply emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from thawing permafrost and drying bogs – could accelerate the output of this lesser-known climate change culprit, according to a study in Nature Geoscience this week (subscription).  Read more

Storm over planned ocean fertilization experiment (updated)

Storm over planned ocean fertilization experiment (updated)

Stimulating algal growth by adding iron to nutrient-poor ocean regions is one of several geo-engineering methods that could possibly mitigate greenhouse warming. But given widespread worries about possibly harmful side-effects on marine life, large-scale ocean ‘fertilization’ is currently not considered advisable.  Read more