Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tropical rainforests store more carbon than previously thought

Tropical rainforests are together with our oceans the largest carbon sinkers and their preservation is certainly one of the key factors that will decide the outcome of our battle against global warming and climate change.

The deforestation of tropical rainforests doesn't only mean less trees to store carbon but it also represents a major source of carbon emissions by releasing approximately 1.1 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year. In large part of the developing world, deforestation is the biggest source of harmful carbon emissions.

The good news comes from the study recently published in Nature Climate Change which concludes that tropical vegetation contains 21 percent more carbon than previously thought.

In this latest study the scientists have created a carbon density map for the tropics with a level of consistency and accuracy never seen before. Among other things they were able to discover that tropical forests in America store around 118 billion tons of carbon, an almost 20% more than shown by previous studies.

It is of vital importance to have the reliable estimates of carbon storage because they are critical to learn about the amount of total carbon released into the atmosphere by changes in land cover and land use.

Without major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions we can only hope that our forests and oceans will be able to expand their carbon storage ability because currently this looks like our only chance against the worst possible climate change scenario.

1 comment:

  1. Methane hydrates are found trapped in the arctic environment below the permafrost. Did you know that methane forms ice crystals at certain depths in above freezing conditions. Right now scientist are completing test on the north slope and injecting CO2 into the methane rich zones to find out if they can produce methane and leave the CO2 in place without compromising the ice crystal structure. If they are successful, this will be a win win situation for Japan since they are sitting next to the ocean where lots of methane is trapped below the seabed. This will allow them to rid themselves of a waste stream or byproduct, and produce clean energy.