Do plants produce more CO2?

Research from the University of Minnesota suggest that plants produce 30% more carbon dioxide than what was previously thought

Do plants produce more CO2?

 
The world is facing the highest temperatures in centuries. Scientist assured that this is due to climate change and greenhouse gases affecting the world. The melting of the polar ice caps, the increasing seawater temperature, the growing sea levels, and the alteration in the seasons are some of the changes.  

The research studied more than 10.000 measurements of carbon dioxide plant respiration from different plant species from all over the world

It was known that the plants, via photosynthesis, transform CO2 into Oxygen. However, it only occurs when they have access to sunlight. When it is dark out, trees and plants breathe like any other animal. Now, new research from the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), together with scientist from all over the world, showed that plant respiration is a larger source of carbon emission than what was previously thought.

Study revealed that plants release 30% more carbon dioxide than previously predicted

The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, studied the GlobResp database, a catalogue of more than 10.000 measurements of carbon dioxide plant respiration from different plant species from all over the world. The group merges the results with a global land carbon cycling model to compare the plant respiration to CO2 emission. According to the study, plants release 30% more carbon dioxide than previously predicted.

The investigation also warned that as the world warms up, the ability of Earth's surface to absorb CO2 emissions may decrease. The results showed that "as the mean global temperature increases, the researchers estimate respiration will increase significantly. Such increases may lower the future ability of global vegetation to offset carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning fossil fuels".

The group explained that "the fact that plant respiration is likely 30 percent higher than previous estimates should warn all global modelers that an update inspection is warranted regarding how we model carbon flows in and out of terrestrial ecosystems globally".

Peter Reich assured that "the study provides the most up-to-date accounting of respiratory carbon releases from plants in terrestrial systems" 

Chris Huntingford, from the United Kingdom's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and 19 other scientists worked together in the project. According to professor Huntingford, "plants both capture carbon dioxide and then release it by respiration. Changes to either of these processes in response to climate change have profound implications for how much ecosystems soak up carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels". 

Peter Reich, Forest Resources Department Professor from the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Sciences from University of Minnesota, assured that "this study provides the most up-to-date accounting of respiratory carbon releases from plants in terrestrial systems".

 

Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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