Skip to main content

Soil carbon release accelerating global warming.

Could the release of carbon from the soil be accelerating global warming and climate change?  The answer from the latest research published in Nature appears to be a resounding 'yes.'  Perhaps it is not surprising given that the soil acts as a significant store of global carbon.  It isn't merely locked in place. Organic processes release it into the atmosphere. 

Carbon is a vital ingredient of our living planet and plays a major role in the balance of our ecosystem.

All life on earth is 'made' of carbon and carbon circulates. Carbon enters the atmosphere as carbon dioxide from respiration and combustion. It is absorbed by plants to make carbohydrates in photosynthesis using energy from the sun.

Animals feed on the plants passing the carbon compounds along the food chain. Most of the carbon they consume is exhaled back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. The animals and plants eventually die, and these dead organisms get eaten by decomposers (microbes and animals in the soil), and thus carbon returns to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

The  bulk of the planet's terrestrial carbon is retained in the soil. In this sense, the soil acts as a carbon buffer or 'store,' and it is this way that the exchange of carbon between the soil and atmosphere represents a restraint on atmospheric carbon dioxide and global warming. 

Organisms (plants, microbes, and animals) living in the soil drive the carbon cycle, and these organic processes are enhanced when the temperature rises.  Thus, a key question is whether anthropogenic (man-made) global warming in turn acts to increase the amount of carbon released from the soil.  

A recent study shows not only that this is the case,  but also suggests that this release of carbon from the soil is now having a significant impact on global warming.

In a significant international collaboration, scientists from universities and climate centres across the world have analysed soil samples from across the globe, from the arctic permafrosts to the dry Mediterranean forests.   They found the effects of temperature on soil carbon were variable but predictable.  The amount of carbon 'stored' in the soil varied inversely with temperature.

The findings of this study provide support for the contention that the release of carbon from the soil is having a significant effect on atmospheric carbon.  More carbon enters the atmosphere as global temperatures rise, accelerating global warming.

As the authors of the study warn, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is vital if we want to avoid the most damaging effects of this carbon feedback over the course of the century.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Prioritising people in nursing care.

There has been in recent years concern that care in the NHS has not been sufficiently 'patient centred', or responsive to the needs of the patient on a case basis. It has been felt in care that it as been the patient who has had to adapt to the regime of care, rather than the other way around. Putting patients at the centre of care means being responsive to their needs and supporting them through the process of health care delivery.  Patients should not become identikit sausages in a production line. The nurses body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has responded to this challenge with a revised code of practice reflection get changes in health and social care since the previous code was published in 2008. The Code describes the professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives. Four themes describe what nurses and midwives are expected to do: prioritise people practise effectively preserve safety, and promote professionalism and trust. The

The internet trails of Ants

Ants share, and they are built to do just that.  They walk and talk to cooperate in all they do.  Ants have two stomachs, with the second one set aside for storing food to be shared with other ants.  Ants get pretty intimate when meeting each other.  The ants kiss, but this kiss isn't any ordinary kind of kiss. Instead, they regurgitate food and exchange it with one another.  By sharing saliva and food,  ants communicate.  Each ant colony has a unique smell, so members recognize each other and sniff out intruders. In addition, all ants can produce pheromones, which are scent chemicals used for communication and to make trails. Ants are problem solvers.  We may recall the problems puzzles we were given as children. We look to see if the pieces will fit.  Jiz saw puzzles are much the same but with many contextual factors. First, the picture tells a story. Then, once we know what the image might be, it becomes easier to see which pieces to look for.  Ants lay down trails. Just as we f

The Thin End account of COVID Lockdown