According to scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, soil that was formed on the surface of the Earth and is now buried deep underground has been found to be rich in carbon. This adds an interesting and complex dimension to our world’s carbon cycle.
According to the study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, human activity has the potential to release more and more of this carbon into the atmosphere as we build our mega malls and McMansions.
Most carbon studies are done in only the top 30 centimeters of the Earth, but this study demonstrates that we are seriously underestimating the carbon contained deep below.
So why does this matter, you may ask? We’re just talking about a bunch of dirt. The real trouble is the carbon emissions happening above ground, right? Well, maybe not. This study presents a strong argument that organic carbon in buried soils is widespread and during our quest to build a strip mall or Walgreens on every corner, we increasingly disturb these landscapes, releasing more carbon into the world. So, what just appears to be soil may be a potential contributor to climate change since the carbon that has been locked away for centuries in arid and semiarid environments is reintroduced to the environment.