Scientists warn that climate change could reach a "turning point" sooner than expected, since global emissions exceed the Earth's capacity to absorb carbon
- A new study investigated how changes in soil moisture affect the carbon sink & # 39;
- The researchers found that variability reduces the ability of vegetation to capture carbon
- A study warns that the absorption of carbon could reach its maximum, which could accelerate the warming
Published: 13:03 EST, January 23, 2019 | Updated: 13:03 EST, January 23, 2019
The threat of climate change can be even more serious than scientists have anticipated.
In 2018, global carbon emissions reached the highest levels so far and researchers now warn that the "turning point" of the Earth could approach quickly.
If emissions continue at current rates, a new study found that the planet's vegetation may not be able to keep up and, once plants and soil reach the maximum carbon absorption they can handle, warming could accelerate quickly.
The threat of climate change can be even more serious than scientists have anticipated. In 2018, global carbon emissions reached the highest levels so far and researchers now warn that the "turning point" of the Earth could approach quickly. Stock Photo
The new study from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Columbia University investigates how the hydrological cycle is related to the Earth's ability to sequester carbon dioxide.
As warming occurs, rain patterns around the world are expected to change, and with that, the ability of vegetation to capture carbon.
"It is not clear, however, if land can continue to use anthropogenic emissions at current rates," says lead researcher Pierre Gentine.
"If the earth reaches a maximum rate of carbon consumption, global warming could accelerate, with important consequences for people and the environment.
"This means that we must all act now to avoid further consequences of climate change."
The researchers badyzed a factor known as net biombad productivity (NBP) using data from the Global Earth Atmosphere Coupling Experiment – Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (GLACE-CMIP5).
This allowed them to define the amount of carbon stored in vegetation and soil, and isolate the effects of changes in soil moisture.
"We saw that the value of NBP, in this case a net gain of carbon in the surface of the earth, would actually be almost double if it were not for these changes (variability and trend) in soil moisture," said the author. principal. PhD student Julia Green.
If emissions continue at current rates, a new study found that the planet's vegetation may not be able to keep up and, once plants and soil reach the maximum carbon absorption they can handle, warming could accelerate quickly. Stock Photo
& # 39; This is a big problem. If soil moisture continues to reduce the NBP at the current rate, and the rate of carbon sequestration by the land begins to decrease by mid-century, as we find in the models, we could see a large increase in the concentration of the atmosphere. & # 39; CO2 and a corresponding increase in the effects of global warming and climate change & # 39; said Green.
WHAT IS THE PARIS AGREEMENT?
The Paris Agreement, which was signed for the first time in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change.
It expects to maintain the global average temperature rise below 2 ° C (3.6 ° F) & continue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 ° C (2.7 ° F) & # 39;
It seems that the more ambitious goal of restricting global warming to 1.5 ° C (2.7 ° F) may be more important than ever, according to previous research that claims that 25 percent of the world could see a significant increase in drier conditions.
In June 2017, President Trump announced his intention that the United States, the second largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, withdraw from the agreement.
The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has four main objectives with respect to reducing emissions:
1) A long-term goal of maintaining the increase in global average temperature well below 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels
2) Seek to limit the increase to 1.5 ° C, since this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
3) Governments agreed on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognizing that this will take more time for developing countries.
4) Make rapid reductions thereafter according to the best science available
Source: European Commission.
According to the researchers, the variability of soil moisture reduces the ability of the soil to absorb carbon.
And, since climate change causes more extreme weather events, such as droughts and heat waves, the problem could soon get worse.
"Essentially, if there were no droughts and heat waves, if there was not a long-term drying over the next century, then the continents could store almost twice as much carbon as they do now," Gentine said. .
"Because soil moisture plays such an important role in the carbon cycle, in the ability of the earth to capture carbon, it is essential that processes related to its representation in the models become a research priority" .