Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nature can help reduce greenhouse gas, but only to a point

11.04.2006


Plants apparently do much less than previously thought to counteract global warming, according to a paper to be published in next week’s online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.



The authors, including Bruce Hungate of Northern Arizona University and lead author Kees-Jan van Groenigen of UC Davis, discovered that plants are limited in their impact on global warming because of their dependence on nitrogen and other trace elements. These elements are essential to photosynthesis, whereby plants remove carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the air and transfer carbon back into the soil.

"What our paper shows is that in order for soils to lock away more carbon as carbon dioxide rises, there has to be quite a bit of extra nitrogen available--far more than what is normally available in most ecosystems," said Hungate of NAU’s Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research.


The paper notes that various plants can pump nitrogen from the air into soils, and some researchers expected rising carbon dioxide to speed up this natural nitrogen pump, providing the nitrogen needed to store soil carbon. However, the research team found that this process, called nitrogen fixation, cannot keep up with increasing carbon dioxide unless other essential nutrients, such as potassium, phosphorus and molybdenum, are added as fertilizers.

The study, which analyzed all published research to date, challenges recent assessments and model projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that anticipated large increases in soil carbon with rising carbon dioxide.

"The discovery implies that future carbon storage by land ecosystems may be smaller than previously thought, and therefore not a very large part of a solution to global warming," Hungate said.

That’s not to say plants are not effective deterrents to global warming. Hungate said about half of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere is stored, at least temporarily, by the ecosystems on land and oceans.

"We do know that CO2 in the atmosphere would be increasing faster were it not for current carbon storage in the oceans and on land," he said. "But land ecosystems appear to have a limited and diminishing capacity to clean up excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is likely to be far more effective than expecting natural ecosystems to mop up the extra CO2 in the atmosphere."

In addition to Hungate and van Groenigen, the authors of the study are Johan Six, Marie-Anne de Graaff and Chris van Kessel of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California Davis, and Nico van Breemen of the Laboratory of Soil Science and Geology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

Bruce Hungate | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nau.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

Im Focus: New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions

It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...

Im Focus: Small collisions make big impact on Mercury's thin atmosphere

Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.

Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft -- short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

Conference Week RRR2017 on Renewable Resources from Wet and Rewetted Peatlands

28.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A single photon reveals quantum entanglement of 16 million atoms

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline

16.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

On the generation of solar spicules and Alfvenic waves

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>