World's forests increasingly taking up more carbon | 2/25/2019 | Staff
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The world's forests are increasingly taking up more carbon, partially offsetting the carbon being released by the burning of fossil fuels and by deforestation in the tropics, according to a new study.

The findings, published in the journal Biogeosciences, suggest that forests are growing more vigorously, and therefore, locking away more carbon. Even so, the concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is still on the rise.

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"Every decade, Earth's forests are taking up carbon faster than the previous decade," said Britton Stephens, a co-author of the study and a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"The same is true of the oceans," said Britton. "Even together, the ocean and the land are not keeping up with industrial carbon emissions, and the global concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at an accelerating rate."

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The increased plant growth in global forests could be due to several factors, including higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, warmer temperatures and increased availability of nitrogen.

The new study also contributes to a mounting body of evidence that tropical forests might take up more carbon—and northern temperate forests might take up less carbon—than many scientists once thought.

Forests - Tropics - Lot - Carbon - Stephens

"The forests we aren't cutting down in the tropics are taking up a lot of carbon," Stephens said.

An international group of researchers, led by NCAR scientist Benjamin Gaubert, authored the study. NSF funded the study, along with NASA, the European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, Japan's Environment Research and Technology Fund of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change Canada and the Canadian Space Agency.

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"This team of scientists has significantly improved our knowledge of how much carbon dioxide gets into the atmosphere," said Sherri Hunt, a program director in NSF's Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences. "Understanding what...
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