Heating Soil could increase carbon emissions into the atmosphere

As we all know, Soils trap carbon inside them and also release some amount of it to the atmosphere. But now it is revealed that the climate change might be affected by soils also which are thought to be one of the important criteria for controlling global warming. Because soils hold trees and the more are the trees, the less is the carbon content in the atmosphere. But now after 26 years of observational research, scientists have found out that if the soil gets more and more warm, then it will lead to a runaway rise in Carbon emissions.

Actually, twenty-six years ago scientists divided a patch of Harvard University-owned forest in central Massachusetts into 18 identical 6-meter by 6-meter squares. They broke the land up into six blocks of three squares each. In every block, one square was left alone; one was threaded with heating cables that increased its temperature 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) above the surrounding area. Then the third square was threaded with cables but never turned on, as a control. Their main purpose was to measure how carbon dioxide might escape from Earth as the atmosphere warms.

And now according to a recent study published in the journal Science, scientists have found out that the warm dirt has accelerated the catastrophe of global warming. Actually, when the Earth heats up or its temperature rises, microbes in the soil accelerate the breakdown of organic materials and move on to others that may have once been ignored, each time releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The researchers reported that 17 percent of the carbon has now been lost from the upper layer of soil of the heated plots over the period of the study.

From this forest study, scientists have estimated that during this century the warming induced by global soil loss, at the rate they are being monitored, would be equivalent to the past two decades of carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning and is comparable in magnitude to the cumulative carbon losses to the atmosphere due to human-driven land use change during the past two centuries.

But the good thing is, now the research community is completely dedicated to getting more information about the soil temperature and soil loss and the role of soil and forests in global carbon cycle. The researchers from Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and New Hampshire-based Research Designs, were associated with the study.

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