From: Woods Hole Research Center
Published September 28, 2017 03:08 PM

New Approach to Measuring Changes in Forest Carbon Density has Shown That the Tropics Now Emit More Carbon Than They Capture

A revolutionary new approach to measuring changes in forest carbon density has helped WHRC scientists determine that the tropics now emit more carbon than they capture, countering their role as a net carbon “sink.”

The shift from carbon sink to carbon “source” was caused by widespread deforestation, degradation and disturbance, according to a new study by a team of WHRC and Boston University scientists. The landmark paper was published online in the journal Science on September 28.

The findings add new urgency to the critical need for aggressive national and global-scale efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Importantly, the study suggests there is a critical window of opportunity to reverse the trend in emissions by halting deforestation and degradation, and actively restoring forests where they have been lost.

“These findings provide the world with a wakeup call on forests,” said WHRC scientist Alessandro Baccini, the report’s lead author. “If we’re to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels, we need to drastically reduce emissions and greatly increase forests’ ability to absorb and store carbon. Forests are the only carbon capture and storage ‘technology’ we have in our grasp that is safe, proven, inexpensive, immediately available at scale, and capable of providing beneficial ripple effects—from regulating rainfall patterns to providing livelihoods to indigenous communities.”

Read more at Woods Hole Research Center

Photo credit: Phil P Harris via Wikimedia Commons

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