Natural carbon sinks (oceans and forests) increased absorption of carbon dioxide and reduced the impact of global warming
Despite the increase in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by humans in recent decades, the vegetation and the oceans continue to absorb half of these, according to study by the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU- Boulder). It is unknown how long will this trend.
The results of the study led by researcher show that while CO2 emissions have quadrupled , l I ‘natural carbon sinks “have absorbed doubled in the last 50 years , reducing the impact of climate change on the planet .
‘We found that the Earth continues to make the “heavy lifting” absorbing huge amounts of carbon dioxide while humans have done little to reduce emissions, “says Researcher. Currently there is no certainty how long the planet can continue “helping.”
The report was published on 2 in the journal Nature . Co-authors are Professor, University of Colorado at Boulder Jim White , PhD studentCarolin Alden and scientists John Miller and Pieter Tans .
According to Alden, this tendency to absorb carbon sinks can not continue indefinitely. “The problem is not whether or not sinks decrease the absorption but how long will last”
“Climate change occurs even though only half of the emissions remain in the atmosphere while the other half are” immersed “in the oceans,” says Alden. “If this natural absorption is completed, the negative impact of CO2 emissions by humans shall bow. “
Ballantyne says other studies on the subject suggested that in some areas of the globe are shrinking carbon sinks such as the Southern Hemisphere. But the new study of Nature shows that global CO2 absorption by natural sinks has doubled from 1960 to 2010, despite the variations from year to year and decade to decade caused by instability in the global carbon cycle.
The “relentless” increase in CO2
Despite the enormous carbon sink for the planet, the CO2 in the atmosphere has risen from 280 parts per million (ppm) at the time of the Industrial Revolution to 394 ppm today. It is estimated that the values continue to increase. Scientists estimate that by 2016 will reach 440 ppm .
“A absorption is not as beneficial”
Scientists are concerned that the absorption has its negative side. The CO2 acidified seawater causing damage to coral reefs. And the reverse process, ie a decreased absorption, would result, among other processes, in a decomposition of soil organic matter caused by higher temperatures.
“Today, the good news is that nature is not helping,” says White. ” The bad news is that we know that nature does not continue to do so . And the price we pay is very high. “