55 trillion kilograms of carbon from soil losses to amplify climate change

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Climate Change, Earth, Biodiversity, Global Warming, Emissions

A new study has shown that as much as 55 trillion kilograms of carbon will be added to the atmosphere by 2050 and this will amplify global warming thereby causing runaway climate change.

Researchers led by University of Minnesota have revealed through a study published in journal Nature, that while scientists have been correct about the possibilities of increase in carbon concentration in the atmosphere because of global warming induced loss of soil’s ability to store higher amounts of carbon, they were not looking for the proof for this theory in the right places. Researchers have shown through their study that global warming will drive loss of at least 55 trillion kilograms of carbon from the soil by 2050 and this will add an additional 17 per cent of carbon to the already predicted emissions because of human-related activities during that period. That would be roughly the equivalent of adding to the planet another industrialized country the size of the United States and thus have a big impact by accelerating climate change, researchers say.

Authors of the latest study point out that while previous studies were mostly concentrating in temperate regions, where there were smaller carbon stocks to begin with, the real impact of global warming and increased carbon losses from soil will be visible in world’s colder places, which previous studies haven’t looked at. According to the team, the massive stocks of carbon in these regions have been building up for thousands of years and and slow microbial activity has kept them relatively secure.

But increased warming the activities of the microbes will increase and this will accelerate the loss of carbon from the soil. Studies have shown that the impact of global warming will be felt at its maximum in cold areas and that’s what makes it scary because the microbes will find the increased temperatures much comfortable than the current cold temperatures.

Scientists say that their latest results are based on an analysis of data on stored soil carbon from dozens of climate warming experiments conducted over the past 20 years by more than 30 co-authors in different regions of the world. According to predictions of the latest study just one degree of warming will force the release of about 30 petagrams of soil carbon into the atmosphere.

“This is a big deal,” one of the authors notes, “because the Earth is likely to have warmed by 2 degrees Celsius by mid-century, releasing as much carbon over that time period as will be emitted from fossil fuel burning in the United States.” A petagram is equal to 1,000,000,000,000 kilograms.

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