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.