Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Breakthrough in climate research

20.01.2005


New research suggests that climate warming may be occurring even faster than previously recognised



A long standing puzzle that has haunted climate researchers looking at the fate of carbon stored in the world’s soils, has now been resolved. The research suggests that climate warming may be occurring even faster than previously recognised.

The international team of researchers, led by Bristol University and reporting in Nature [20 January 2005], show that an apparent biological adaptation of micro-organisms that break down carbon in soils, thereby releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, can in fact be explained by the widely contrasting properties of those organic carbons.


Recent reports of laboratory experiments have stated that the micro-organisms responsible for soil carbon decomposition gradually acclimatise to an increase in heat and adjust the rate at which carbon is released into the atmosphere, such that it is effectively released at a steady rate. However, this does not agree with long-established rules of physical chemistry that predict that as the climate warms these reactions should speed up, resulting in an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide released.

The team of researchers at Bristol University and the Natural Environment Research Council’s QUEST programme, the Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry in Germany, and the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, has now managed to solve the puzzle, bringing the apparent contradictions from laboratory experiments in line with theoretical predictions.

They show that what looked liked a biological adaptation of the micro-organisms can in fact be explained by widely contrasting properties of organic carbon present in soils.

These properties range from highly digestible (labile) sugar-like compounds to almost stable, charcoal-like compounds which the micro-organisms have difficulty breaking down. Such an extreme mixture has so far prevented theoretical interpretation of the laboratory experiments.

The next step will be to apply the new theory in complex climate simulations, using so-called Earth System Models. So far, these models only use properties from the labile soil carbon because they are easier to measure. But an estimated 90% of the carbon locked up in the world’s soil is made up of the more stable components, which must now be built into the model.

The new results predict that since the micro-organisms are not keeping the release of carbon dioxide from the soil at a steady state, as previously thought, an increase in climate temperatures will result in an increase in the rate at which the stable components decompose. This will lead to even more carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere and more rapid climate change.

Cherry Lewis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bristol.ac.uk

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting eruptions using satellites and math
28.06.2017 | Frontiers

nachricht NASA sees quick development of Hurricane Dora
27.06.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>