Tropical forest growth could worsen carbon dioxide problem

August 16th, 2011 - 7:21 pm ICT by Aishwarya Bhatt  

London, August 16 (THAINDIAN NEWS) Researchers from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the University of Cambridge, UK have reported that more trees may rather worsen the carbon dioxide problem the world is facing rather than improve it. Environmentalists have in the past argued that forest growth was needed to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but the new study say that is not accurate.

In the new study which was published in the online journal Nature Climate Change, the scientists concluded that forest growth leads to increased litterfall which in turn causes increased release of carbon dioxide. The researchers studied data from six years of experiment which was carried out at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, Central America.

It was reported in the results of the study that when plant parts like the leaves, bark and twigs die, they add to the forest litterfall which stimulates some micro-organisms to release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The scientist concluded that every 30 percent increase in litterfall is responsible for the release of about 0.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Lead researcher Dr Emma Sayer explained that, “Most estimates of the carbon sequestration capacity of tropical forests are based on measurements of tree growth. Our study demonstrates that interactions between plants and soil can have a massive impact on carbon cycling. Models of climate change must take these feedbacks into account to predict future atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.”

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