Profile image
Story Views

Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:

CO2-loving plants can counter human emissions

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 5:48
% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

Plants temporarily halted the acceleration of rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, new research suggests.

From 2002 through 2014, CO2 levels measured over the oceans climbed from around 372 parts per million to 397 parts per million. But the average rate of that rise remained steady despite increasing carbon emissions from human activities, researchers report online November 8 in Nature Communications. After pouring over climate measurements and simulations, the researchers attribute this steadying to changes in the relative amount of CO2 absorbed and released by plants.

The work is the first to clearly demonstrate that plants can affect the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 over long time periods, says study coauthor Trevor Keenan, an earth systems scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Still, human emissions remain the dominant driver of CO2 levels, he says. “If we keep emitting as much as we are, and what we emit keeps going up, then it won’t matter very much what the plants do.”

Each year, land plants and the oceans remove about 45 percent of the CO2 emitted from human activities. The amount of CO2 absorbed by these natural processes has doubled over the last 50 years.

Plants absorb CO2 through photosynthesis, a process that is more efficient when CO2 is abundant. Plants also release CO2 during respiration when they tap into their stored-up energy. Warmer temperatures increase respiration rates.

During the early years of the new millennium, the rate of rising CO2 concentrations outpaced the rate of global warming. This caused plants to absorb more CO2 during photosynthesis than they released during respiration. That imbalance slowed the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere, the researchers propose. While rising CO2 levels had accelerated from a yearly increase of 0.75 parts per million in 1959 to 1.86 parts per million three decades later, between 2002 and 2014 the rate held at around 1.9 parts per million.

We encourage you to Share our Reports, Analyses, Breaking News and Videos. Simply Click your Favorite Social Media Button and Share.

Report abuse


Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Top Stories
Recent Stories



Top Global

Top Alternative



Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.