Recent studies indicate that, as global temperatures continue to increase, forests throughout the world could turn into CO2 emitters, rather than help clean up the air.
Up until now, it was presumed that natural landscapes help reduce pollution and can help us in our battle against climate change, as plants typically absorb carbon-dioxide emissions.
However, it seems that, when faced with temperatures 5.5 – 11 degrees Celsius (10-20 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average, forest soils behave in a not-very-environmentally-friendly manner: they begin to let go of most of the CO2 they have previously stored.
Preliminary reports suggest that, under “proper” weather conditions, one square meter of soil can release somewhere around 1.750 – 4.700 kilograms of this harmful gas.
As researchers explain, this phenomenon can easily lead to an all-negative vicious circle.
Thus, higher temperatures lead to more carbon-dioxide emissions building up into the atmosphere; once it hits the air, the said carbon dioxide plays its part in pushing global warming even further. In the end, little can be done to put an end to this process.
According to Mongabay
, Francesca Hopkins, from the University of California Irvine explained that “This suggests that soils could accelerate global warming through a vicious cycle in which man-made warming releases carbon from soils to the atmosphere, which, in turn, would warm the planet more.”
Although human society can indeed make efforts and somewhat control the CO2 emissions resulting from various industries, for the time being there seems to be no solution for getting forest soils to go back to simply storing CO2.
What is even more worrying is that, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), if things continue to unfold in this manner, by 2100 global average temperatures will increase by 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit).
Seeing how, as pointed out in one of our previous articles, carbon concentrations in the Arctic atmosphere have already hit record numbers, it seems to us that something must be done as soon as possible.