The loss of Arctic sea ice has already been shown to be part of a positive feedback loop driving climate change, and a recent study published in the journal Nature puts the spotlight on what appears to be another of these feedback loops.
It has to do with soil, currently one of Earth’s carbon sinks. But warming may lead to soils releasing, rather than sequestering, carbon.
As study co-author John Blair, university distinguished professor of biology at Kansas State University, explained, “Globally, soils hold more than twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, so even a relatively small increase in release of carbon from the Earth’s soils can have a large impact on atmospheric greenhouse gases and future warming.”
For the study, the researchers took data from over four dozen sites across the globe representing a variety of ecosystems and heated them approximately one degree Celsius.
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They found that the samples from lower latitude grassland soils showed little change, but the soil samples from the colder, higher latitude ecosystems—which hold more carbon—released large amounts of carbon with the temperature increase.
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