Plants cannot keep up with rising CO2 levels
Today’s Video of the Day from NASA Goddard describes how plants are struggling to keep pace with rising levels of carbon dioxide.
Plants are gradually losing their ability to help mitigate the impacts of climate change, according to the study. The experts found that 86 percent of land ecosystems are becoming less efficient in absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2).
Trees and other plants absorb CO2 as they photosynthesize. In a process known as the carbon fertilization effect, elevated levels of CO2 cause an increase in photosynthesis and plant growth. This helps to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, where it accelerates global warming.
But there are other factors, such as a lack of water and soil nutrients, that reduce the capacity of CO2 to boost plant growth.
“According to our data, what appears to be happening is that there’s both a moisture limitation as well as a nutrient limitation coming into play,” said study co-author Ben Poulter.
“In the tropics, there’s often just not enough nitrogen or phosphorus, to sustain photosynthesis, and in the high-latitude temperate and boreal regions, soil moisture is now more limiting than air temperature because of recent warming.”
Video Credit: NASA Goddard