Soils or Plants Will Absorb More CO2 as Carbon Levels Rise – But Not Both, Stanford Study Finds


Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere fuels plant growth.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere fuels plant growth. As carbon levels rise, it’s appealing to think of supercharged plant growth and massive tree-planting campaigns drawing down the CO2 produced by fossil fuel burning, agriculture and other human activities.

New research published March 24 in Nature, however, suggests that when elevated carbon dioxide levels drive increased plant growth, it takes a surprisingly steep toll on another big carbon sink: the soil.

One likely explanation, the authors say, is that plants effectively mine the soil for nutrients they need to keep up with carbon-fueled growth. Extracting the extra nutrients requires revving up microbial activity, which then releases CO2 into the atmosphere that might otherwise remain locked in soil.

Read more at: Stanford University

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