Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Increased forest cover doesn't always mean better carbon storage

The currently dominant opinion is that the more forests we plant the more carbon it will be stored. This is true in most cases but not always as the latest study by the University of Exeter shows.

Dr Iain Hartley from the University of Exeter argues that the fact that Arctic is becoming more and greener isn't beneficial for climate change because the carbon stored in Arctic tundra could be released into the atmosphere by new trees growing in the warmer region, which could exacerbate climate change impact even further.

The greening usually results in more carbon dioxide (CO2) being sink from the atmosphere, therefore helping to reduce the impact of climate change but this is not the case with Arctic tundra.

The expansion of forest into Arctic tundra could stimulate decomposition rates in soils leading to significant release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Tundras are specific because their soil contains plenty of stored organic matter, due to slow decomposition, and the new trees stimulate the decomposition of this matter leading to more release of CO2 into the atmosphere.

The scientists believe that Arctic soils currently store more carbon than is present in the atmosphere and so the release of this stored carbon could have devastating impact on climate change.

The role of soil conditions is yet to be fully understood in climate change equation. By the current looks of it planting new trees in Arctic tundra doesn’t look to be beneficial for climate change, in fact, it could lead to more bad climate change news. It is up to science to determine whether this pattern is confined strictly to Arctic or not.

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