Soil-Emitted Carbon Dioxide Influenced by Climate Warming

51856_webA study published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Climate Change, conducted by University of New Hampshire professor Serita Frey together with a team from the University of California-Davis and the Marine Biological Laboratory, concluded that increase in temperatures will lead to additional release of carbon from soils.

The authors explain how soil microorganisms respond to warmer climate, causing changes in the normal carbon dioxide flux from soils. In the past, the flux has been strictly controlled by plants uptake of carbon from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis.

However, due to human induced climate change this balance is very likely to get disturbed. As Frey states, soil microorganisms play a very significant role in controlling carbon concentrations in the atmosphere.

The study presents two scenarios, short and long term, based on variation in food sources available to these microorganisms and temperature. In a short term, the ability of soil to use glucose from plant roots will not be severely affected. However, the efficiency to use more complex food sources such as phenol with increase in temperatures, is predicted to drop by 60 percent.

Frey explains that this is due to the higher amounts of released carbon dioxide and these results apply only to the complex food sources, which might be interpreted as worsening of the climate problem.

Surprisingly, the effect decreases in the long term scenario, covering the next 18 years, indicating that the original predictions might be exaggerated.

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In addition, the team looked at the long term impact that changes in soil microorganism’ efficiency might have on carbon storage. The main motivation behind this is that current models always assume that efficiency is fixed and it is not influenced by changes in temperatures. The results from the study revealed that variations in this flux are crucial for better prediction of future climate change. The authors strongly recommend that new models should be developed taking the fluctuation of this parameter into account.

The team hypothesize that microorganisms might become more efficient with changes in temperature in a long run. This is mainly because of the ability of the soil microorganisms to adapt to the new conditions.


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  • Joe Matthis

    Read it closely its all a bunch of theory. It is much like saying global warming only happens during the day….well duh. Now look I’m not saying the world isn’t getting warmer because it is. The planet has been warming basically since the last ice age. Studies have shown that co2 levels have been high in the past without any input from man. So what caused it then? Don’t worry we’ll think of something. Yes we need to do a better job of keeping our planet in balance, we need to recycle and we need to control our carbon output. Not because WE are causing climate change or global warming but because we need to be better stewards. The earth has been in constant change since the beginning and to think we can control the climate is just arrogance to a very high degree. The answer to the problem is a simple one, but it doesn’t make anybody any money or redistribute wealth or extort money out of successful nations or generate policies that make shifts in power. Just plant more trees. Trees represent sequestered carbon. Things made out of wood represent sequestered carbon, most of the stuff we use represent sequestered carbon. We are indeed adding more carbon to the cycle but I have not yet seen a study that shows how many tons of carbon are sequestered every year or even on a daily basis. You have to look at the whole equation not just one side of it, yes this might happen, and yes that might happen but without REAL factors being discussed, it’s all just hype and propaganda. How stupid do you think we are? Don’t answer that. I guess we are all a bunch of chicken little running around yelling the sky is falling or better yet the sun is rising. We have a better chance of stopping the sun from rising than to stop climate change. We are not in control of the climate, we can’t even control ourselves. Forever there will be scams that try to control the hearts and minds and wallets of the people.

    • Ovidiu Sandru

      I just love your fervent comments, Joe… as always. 🙂 You have a point and you ain’t stupid. Thanks for the input.