Ability Of Tropical Forests To Absorb Carbon Dioxide Decreasing: Study

Tropical forests have begun to lose their ability to absorb deadly gases because of the continuous production of heat on the planet from carbon dioxide and global warming. According to the latest study, the ability of tropical forests to digest carbon dioxide has diminished in the last two decades.   

Reports led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have examined the carbon sink and resources in forests and vegetation. The area that absorbs more carbon than they releases are known as carbon sinks. Researchers are studying whether and how plants perform as sources or sinks, on the scale of a forest, in a world where emissions are getting high and the planet is also surrounded by global warming.   

The examined study published in the journal Science Advance, mentions that terrestrial carbon fluxes stay the largest unpredictability in the global carbon cycle. The examiner found that over the course of those two decades, living woody plants were responsible for more than 80 percent of the sources and sink on land, with soil, leaf litter, and decaying organic matter making up the rest.

Researchers have also found out that the total amount of carbon emitted and absorbed in the tropics was four times larger than in temperate regions and boreal areas combined. The decrease of tropical forests’ ability to absorb carbon dioxide is largely being attributed to environmental issues like deforestation, habitat degradation, and climate change.

The study used Nasa’s Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) onboard ICESat and the agency’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites to create maps of carbon sources and sinks from land-use changes. It has been concluded that 90 percent of the carbon that forests around the world absorb from the atmosphere is balanced by the amount of carbon released by major disturbances produced from deforestation and droughts.

Sassan Saatchi, the study lead investigator said, “The Amazon was considered a substantial carbon sink because of large tracts of pristine forest that soak up carbon dioxide. However, our results show that overall, the Amazon Basin is becoming almost neutral in terms of carbon balance because of deforestation, degradation, and the impacts of warming, frequent droughts, and fires.”

There are hopes of having a more systematic and consistent approach to keeping track of which parts of the world are acting as carbon sources or sinks. This will enable better monitoring across regions and countries.

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