Tropical Forests Can Handle the Heat, Up to a Point


Tropical forests can continue to store large amounts of carbon in a warmer world – only if countries limit greenhouse gas emissions, new research suggests.

The world’s tropical forests store a quarter-century worth of fossil fuel emissions in their trees alone. There are fears that global heating can reduce this store if tree growth reduces or tree death increases, accelerating climate change.

An international research team – including academics from the University of York - measured more than half a million trees in 813 forests across the tropics to assess how much carbon is stored by forests growing under different climatic conditions.

The study reveals that tropical forests continue to store high levels of carbon under high temperatures, showing that in the long run these forests can handle heat up to an estimated threshold of 32 degrees Celsius in daytime temperature.

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Image via University of York