Project leader Professor Pete Millard of Aberdeen’s Macaulay Institute explains: “Globally, soils contain over 300 times the amount of carbon released each year due to the burning of fossil fuels, and this carbon has until now, been safely locked up below ground.
“As the planet is warming up, this carbon is being released from the soil into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, but there are in fact two types of carbon —‘new’ carbon, which has recently entered the soil through vegetation, and ‘old’ carbon, which has been locked up in the soil for years.
“It is the amount of this old carbon being lost as CO2 that has the biggest climate change effect,” he added, “as it signifies the soil changing from being a carbon-store to a source of carbon — a carbon-emitter.”
Measuring the loss of carbon from soils is relatively straightforward, but determining how much is from this old carbon has up to now proved very difficult. Now this joint project between the Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen and Landcare Research, New Zealand, has developed a method to measure the release of old carbon from soils.
Their approach is based upon the measurement of very small differences in the amount of an isotope, carbon-13, which is naturally present in all carbon dioxide, including that released by soils into the atmosphere.
"We are excited because it's very relevant at the moment. We need to predict how the climate is going to change and of course that's related to the atmosphere, the vegetation and the soil," said Professor Millard.
Funded by the Scottish government and the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden fund, the researchers have been working on this for three years, and now for the first time, they have been able to differentiate how much old, historical carbon is being released from soils.
"The implications of knowing this are very important and it will enable us to determine for the first time what the consequences of changes in land use might be for climate change," said Professor Millard. "As more CO2 is released from the soil, the temperature is going to increase further — it could almost be a runway reaction.”
Also working on the project are David Whitehead, John Hunt and Margaret Barbour from Landcare Research, NZ.
Dave Stevens | alfa
Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences