The assumptions of the carbon cycle are inaccurate – critical in predicting climate change, researchers report

Virginia Tech researchers report that estimates of the carbon cycle are inaccurate - critical to predicting climate change.

Student planting. Available: Virgina Tech

Researchers at Virginia Tech, in collaboration with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, found that important parts of the global carbon cycle used to monitor the movement of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are not accurate. significantly changing the standard carbon emissions.

It is important to consider how much carbon dioxide plants emit from the atmosphere to accurately observe and predict the amount of greenhouse gases that will change into the atmosphere. This information could change predictions for climate change, although it is not yet clear whether the differences will affect the amount or amount of carbon dioxide counted in the atmosphere.

“The amount of carbon that comes out of the air from plants is either a fault or a lot of it comes out of the soil,” said Meredith Steele, an assistant professor at the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the College of Agriculture and Life. Sciences, whose Ph.D. student at the time, Jinshi Jian, led the research team. The information will be published on Friday Nature Communications.

“We’re not going to be hard on the climate change science that’s been established, but we need to count all the carbon dioxide in the ecosystem that isn’t possible right now,” he said. “What we do know is that models of ecosystem response to climate change need to be expanded.”

Jian and Steele’s work focuses on the carbon cycle and how to remove vegetation and soil and return carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

To understand the effects of carbon dioxide on Earth’s ecosystems, we need to know exactly where carbon is going. This process, called carbon accounting, tells how much carbon is going where, how much of each carbon pool on Earth is in the ocean, the air, the land, and so on. with living things.

For many years, researchers have tried to find an accurate history of where our carbon footprint is and where it goes. Researchers at Virginia Tech and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory studied the carbon dioxide that is pulled from the air by plants through photosynthesis.

When animals eat plants, carbon moves into the ecosystem. Then move on to the dirt or the animals. And most of the carbon is released – and relaxed – back into the air.

This incoming and outgoing carbon is important for balancing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, helping to change the climate and conserve carbon. long term.

However, researchers at Virginia Tech found that when using permitted numbers for dust breathing, those numbers were inconsistent in carbon emissions.

“Photosynthesis and respiration are the strengths of the carbon cycle, however, the age of each individual on Earth cannot be measured,” said Lisa Welp, an environmental scientist, the space, and earth science at Purdue. The University, which is familiar with the work but is not part of the research. “The authors’ attempts to reconcile these worldviews from different communities show us that they are not very self -reliant and have more to learn about. to these basic processes in the world. “

What Jian and Steele, as well as the rest of the company, found, using the basic product of the allowed carbon count is 120 petagrams – each petagram is a billion metric tons – Much of the carbon that comes out of the soil’s breathing. at about 65 petagrams.

By analyzing many currents of carbon dioxide, the researchers found that the carbon dioxide of the Earth’s oceans, air, land, and living things. the amount of carbon dioxide coming out of the soil is about 95 petagrams. The size of the first product is about 147. On scale, the difference between the currently allowed amount is 120 petagrams and this is expected to be about three times the release. The world’s fossil fuel is growing each year.

According to researchers, there are two possible ways to do this. First, the remote sensing path may reduce the core activity. In addition, rising dust levels will increase the amount of carbon that is returned to the atmosphere. Whether this misconception is positive or negative for the scientific competition of climate change is something that needs to be looked at later, Steele said.

The next step in the research is to determine which part of the global car model is low or high.

By having an accurate history of carbon and space in an ecosystem, better predictions and models can accurately determine how an ecosystem will respond to climate change. , said Jian, who started this research as a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech and currently at Northwest A&F University in China.

“If we think about what the world was like when we were young, things changed,” Jian said. “There are a lot more bad events.

While Steele has a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech, a portion of Steele’s start -up money went to support Jian’s graduate research. Jian, interested in information science, data science, and soil breathing, was working on another piece of his dissertation when he stumbled upon something unconnected.

Jian is researching how to take low carbon measurements from around the world. While Jian researched this, Jian realized that the best choices would not be the same if all the currents of the global carbon count were combined.


The study found that dust carbon is not as stable as previously thought


More information:
History and carbon dioxide are not the same. Nature Communications (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-022-29391-5

Presented by Virginia Tech

Directions: The assumptions of the carbon cycle are inaccurate – important in predicting climate change, researchers report (2022, April 1) retrieved on April 1, 2022 from https: // phys. org/news/2022-04-carbon-cyclevital-climate-changeare -incorrect.html

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