High temperatures could enhance sequestration

Forests are still able to sequester atmospheric carbon in higher temperatures, according to new research, contradicting previous studies. In fact, soil warming may actually enhance carbon storage.

Research by scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole in Massachusetts have found that there is a built-in biochemical break in soil carbon release, with much of the carbon being in a chemical form that is difficult for bacteria to break down.

The higher release of carbon dioxide from warmed soil caused by faster rates of decay of organic material is short-lived, say the researchers, accounting for 11% of available soil carbon.

Recent research has indicated that the ability of trees to sequester carbon is affected by a variety of circumstances. Unsuitable conditions include high rainfall (see related story), although nitrogen-fixing trees can significantly boost carbon sequestration (see related story).

Nitrogen fixing has again been found to be important in this latest research. Soil warming increases nitrogen availability to plants, which is essential for tree-growth, so encouraging carbon storage.

The researchers have found that the amount of carbon stored in their study trees over 10 years is at least equal to the carbon lost to the atmosphere from the warmed soil.

edie recently reported that climate change has a big impact on the ability of the oceans to store excess carbon dioxide (see related story).

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