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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Climate Change News: Tropical forests used to protect us from climate change. Now, scientists say, they’re making it worse

Tropical forests used to protect us from climate change. Now, scientists say, they’re making it worse

A surprising scientific study released Thursday presents troubling news about the enormous forests of the planet’s tropical midsection — suggesting that they are releasing hundreds of millions of tons of carbon to the atmosphere, rather than storing it in the trunks of trees and other vegetation.

The results, published in the journal Science, contradict prior work in suggesting that these forests — including the Amazon rain forest but also huge tropical forests in Indonesia, Congo and elsewhere — have become another net addition to the climate change problem. However, the accounting also implies that if the current losses could be reversed, the forests could also rapidly transform into a powerful climate change solution.

“The losses due to deforestation and degradation are actually emitting more CO2 to the atmosphere, compared with how much the existing forest is able to absorb,” said Alessandro Baccini, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the Woods Hole Research Center. He conducted the study with fellow scientists from Woods Hole and Boston University.

The result, which spans the years from 2003 to 2014, differs from prior findings, which had suggested the forests of the tropics are a “sink” for carbon atoms. The forests were believed to be pulling carbon out of the air and embedding it in living plants — or, perhaps, only losing a little bit of carbon and thus amounting to a minor source.


Full story at http://wapo.st/2fWBcI0


Source: Washington Post


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