Global Warming and Co2 Release : Environment for UPSC Exams
Soil holds majority of Earth’s carbon and warming of the planet is triggering its release into the atmosphere, a new study published in journal Nature points out
Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. Co2 is one of them.
Co2 enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), solid waste, trees and wood products, and also as a result of certain chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement). Co2is removed from the atmosphere (or "sequestered") when it is absorbed by plants as part of the biological carbon cycle.
Researchers predict that over 55 trillion kilograms of carbon can be released by 2050 from soil in a business-as-usual scenario. This is about 17 per cent more than projected emissions because of anthropogenic activities.
The paper says that temperature rise of 1°C will result in the release of 30 petagrams of carbon, which is almost twice the amount emitted due to human activities annually.
Soil in northern latitude ecosystems, like tundra and boreal forests, have accumulated vast amounts of organic matter due to slow decomposition rates under cold conditions that limit soil microbial activity
As the soil warms, microbial activity increases, and that stored organic matter is processed by the microbes and released as carbon dioxide or methane, both active greenhouse gases that can contribute to further warming.