In recent years, the escalating impact of global warming has prompted efforts to reverse troubling trends, often by planting trees to capture and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it.
In recent years, the escalating impact of global warming has prompted efforts to reverse troubling trends, often by planting trees to capture and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. New research from a team led by Young Zhou, from the Quinney College of Natural Resources and the Ecology Center, shows that, in addition to trees, humble grasses also play an essential role in capturing carbon — more important than previously thought.
A recent initiative set its sights on capturing carbon in tropical savannas, an ecosystem characterized by shared space of trees and grasses. The project initiated a tree planting effort (afforestation) to capture carbon dioxide from the air, which resulted in stored carbon in two primary places: the woody biomass of the growing trees, and in soils. While the effectiveness of storing carbon in trees has been well-established in research, how carbon storage functions in soils was not well defined, and Zhou and his colleagues set out to determine the role grasses played in this effort.
The team, which included scientists from Yale University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of Cape Town, Texas A&M, Kruger National Park, Harvard University, and University of Oregon, conducted a comprehensive study investigating the contribution of grasses to carbon content in savannas soils and assessed the potential impact of increasing tree cover in tropical savannas on soil carbon storage. The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Read more at: Utah State University
New research shows that in addition to trees, humble grasses play an essential role in capturing carbon to fight climate change in savanna ecosystems like this one in Kruger National Park, South Africa. (Photo Credit: USU/Yong Zhou)