Agricultural soil erosion not contributing to global warming

November 14th, 2007 - 2:58 am ICT by admin  
The researchers developed a new method to establish the net effect of erosion on exchanges of carbon between the soil and the atmosphere.

Findings revealed that erosion acted like a conveyor belt, excavating subsoil, passing it through surface soils and burying it in hill-slope hollows, in landscape subject to soil erosion.

During this journey, the soil absorbed carbon from plant material, which became buried within the soil in depositional areas.

As such, erosion led to more carbon being removed from the atmosphere than was emitted, creating what could be described as a ’sink’ of atmospheric carbon, the authors reported in their study.

The team further found that these sinks of CO2 represented the equivalent of around 1.5 percent of the annual fossil fuel emissions.

They said the finding challenged previous assessments that erosion represented an additional source of carbon to the atmosphere equivalent to adding 13 percent to annual fossil fuel emissions.

The finding also challenged the opposite notion that erosion was currently offsetting fossil fuel emissions by more than 10 percent, they said.

“There is an on-going debate on the link between agricultural soil erosion and the carbon cycle. Academics on one side have argued that soil erosion causes considerable levels of carbon emissions and on the other that erosion is actually offsetting fossil fuel emissions. Our research clearly shows that neither of these is the case,” said Dr Kristof Van Oost of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.

The study appears in the October 25 issue of the journal Science.

Other researchers involved in the study were from the University of Exeter, UK, and the University of California, Davis. (ANI)

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