BANGKOK: New research shows that the fast warming of the planet could cause trees and plants to release more carbon than they absorb, a critical function reversal that would further accelerate climate change.
By as early as 2040, given the current projections of global temperature rise, land systems will only be able to take in half the amount of carbon compared to what they do today, according to the research, published in Science Advances this month.
The research analysed data from about 1,500 sites around the world to try and understand how temperature intersected with the absorption of carbon. What it uncovered was a “powerful tipping point”.
As temperatures continue to rise, the ability of trees and plants to perform photosynthesis - a function that utilises carbon dioxide in the air - is compromised. At the same time, in a warmer environment, the respiration of plants also increases due to heat stress, adding more carbon to the atmosphere.