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Role of terrestrial biosphere in counteracting climate change may have been underestimated

It is widely known that the terrestrial biosphere (the collective term for all the world’s land vegetation, soil, etc.) is an important factor in mitigating climate change, as it absorbs around 20% of all fossil fuel CO2 emissions. However, its role as a net carbon sink is affected by land-use changes such as deforestation and expanded agricultural practice.

A new study, conducted by an international collaboration of scientists and published in the journal Nature Geoscience, has analysed the extent to which these changing land-use practices affect carbon emissions – allowing the levels of CO2 uptake by the terrestrial biosphere to be more accurately predicted.

The results not only show that CO2 emissions from changing land-use practices are likely to be significantly higher than previously thought, but also imply that these emissions are compensated for by a higher rate of carbon uptake among terrestrial ecosystems.

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