Earth Science News  





. Nature Can Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Up To A Point

"We do know that CO2 in the atmosphere would be increasing faster were it not for current carbon storage in the oceans and on land," Bruce Hungate said. "But land ecosystems appear to have a limited and diminishing capacity to clean up excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is likely to be far more effective than expecting natural ecosystems to mop up the extra CO2 in the atmosphere."
by Staff Writers
Flagstaff AZ (SPX) Apr 11, 2006
Plants apparently do much less than previously thought to counteract global warming, according to a paper to be published in next week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The authors, including Bruce Hungate of Northern Arizona University and lead author Kees-Jan van Groenigen of UC Davis, discovered that plants are limited in their impact on global warming because of their dependence on nitrogen and other trace elements. These elements are essential to photosynthesis, whereby plants remove carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the air and transfer carbon back into the soil.

"What our paper shows is that in order for soils to lock away more carbon as carbon dioxide rises, there has to be quite a bit of extra nitrogen available--far more than what is normally available in most ecosystems," said Hungate of NAU's Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research.

The paper notes that various plants can pump nitrogen from the air into soils, and some researchers expected rising carbon dioxide to speed up this natural nitrogen pump, providing the nitrogen needed to store soil carbon. However, the research team found that this process, called nitrogen fixation, cannot keep up with increasing carbon dioxide unless other essential nutrients, such as potassium, phosphorus and molybdenum, are added as fertilizers.

The study, which analyzed all published research to date, challenges recent assessments and model projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that anticipated large increases in soil carbon with rising carbon dioxide.

"The discovery implies that future carbon storage by land ecosystems may be smaller than previously thought, and therefore not a very large part of a solution to global warming," Hungate said.

That's not to say plants are not effective deterrents to global warming. Hungate said about half of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere is stored, at least temporarily, by the ecosystems on land and oceans.

"We do know that CO2 in the atmosphere would be increasing faster were it not for current carbon storage in the oceans and on land," he said. "But land ecosystems appear to have a limited and diminishing capacity to clean up excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is likely to be far more effective than expecting natural ecosystems to mop up the extra CO2 in the atmosphere."

In addition to Hungate and van Groenigen, the authors of the study are Johan Six, Marie-Anne de Graaff and Chris van Kessel of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California Davis, and Nico van Breemen of the Laboratory of Soil Science and Geology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

Related Links
Northern Arizona University
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Brown University Geologists Create 5-Million-Year Climate Record
Providence RI (SPX) Apr 07, 2006
Using chemical clues mined from ocean mud, Brown University researchers have generated the longest continuous record of ocean temperatures on Earth. The 5-million-year record is a history of temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific, or EEP, located off the coast of South America.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • Indonesian Leader Calls For More Disaster Cooperation
  • Six Months In The Life Of Pakistan Quake Refugees
  • Italy Explores Disaster Warning System For Caribbean
  • US Struggling To Find New Disaster Chief

  • Nature Can Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Up To A Point
  • Brown University Geologists Create 5-Million-Year Climate Record
  • Severe Ethiopian Drought Claims Thousands Of Livestock Threatens Life
  • UN Decries Biodiversity Decline, Climate Change

  • Plants Used To Detect Gas Leaks, From Outer Space!
  • US And Indonesia Launch Talks To Combat Illegal Logging
  • Satellites Track Great Barrier Reef Bleaching
  • Envisat Makes Direct Measurements Of Ocean Surface Velocities

  • First Fuel-Cell Police Car Delivered By Chrysler
  • Coal May Lead Way To Hydrogen Economy
  • NASA Marshall Develops Faster Cheaper Fluid Flow Meter
  • Common Clays Investigated For Use As High Tech Environmental Catalysts

  • Experts Slam 'Disease Mongering'
  • Large Steps Taken In The Fight Against African Sleeping Sickness
  • Plague Pits And Mass Burials
  • Supercomputer Explores Avian Flu Vaccine And Isolation Options

  • Nature's Strongest Glue Could Be Used As A Medical Adhesive
  • Scientists Fly In For Maggot Fest
  • Endangered Amur Tiger Makes Comeback In Russian Far-East
  • Controversial Findings Help Explain Evolution Of Life

  • Lake Victoria Groans As Pollution Takes Toll
  • Czechs Block Import Of German Waste For Incineration
  • Can We Slay The 'Yellow Monster'
  • Albatross Study Shows Regional Differences In Ocean Contamination

  • People With Near Death Experiences Differ In Sleep-Wake Control
  • Prepared Minds Have More Aha! Moments
  • International Migration Has Pros And Cons
  • How Does The Brain Recognize Faces

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement