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Nuclear tests reveal that plants store carbon dioxide in much larger quantities than previously thought

Nuclear tests reveal that plants store carbon dioxide in much larger quantities than previously thought

The research shows that natural decarbonization projects, such as reforestation, have their limits and that we need to take more urgent action to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

Planting trees is a measure to combat climate change. This is because plants and trees absorb and store carbon dioxide. As a result, it helps reduce the amount of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, which makes an important contribution to reducing global warming and global warming. But researchers are now warning that this method may not be effective.

Carbon Dioxide
Scientists know that about 30 percent of annual carbon dioxide emissions from human activities are absorbed by plants and soil. This helps reduce climate change and its effects. However, we still know little about exactly how this storage occurs and how stable it will be in the future.

Valuable insights
In the new research, the team used radiocarbon (14C), a radioactive form of carbon, along with computer simulations to study how plants around the world absorb carbon dioxide. This has provided valuable insights into how the atmosphere and biosphere interact.

Nuclear tests
Radiocarbon is created naturally. But nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s led to an increase of 14 degrees Celsius in the atmosphere. This extra 14C was available to plants around the world, giving scientists an effective tool to measure how quickly plants absorb this carbon. In the new study, researchers studied the accumulation of 14 degrees Celsius between 1963 and 1967. During this period, no large nuclear explosions occurred, keeping the 14°C level in the Earth system relatively stable. This allowed the researchers to analyze how quickly carbon dioxide moves from the atmosphere to plants and what happens after plants absorb it.

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The results are surprising. It turns out that plants actually store much more carbon dioxide than previously thought. Current climate models appear to greatly underestimate the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by plants annually around the world. “Plants around the world are actually more productive than we thought,” researcher Heather Graven concluded.

At the same time, we also appear to be overestimating how long plants store carbon. Plants retain carbon for a shorter period of time than previously assumed. This means that carbon from human activities will be emitted back into the atmosphere sooner than previously expected.

Briefly, the study Sheds new light on the dynamics of carbon storage in plants. The results show that plants around the world are absorbing more carbon than previously thought, but that carbon is also being released faster than expected. “Carbon appears to move faster between the atmosphere and the biosphere,” says researcher Charles Coffin. This suggests that we need to understand this accelerating cycle more precisely and incorporate it into climate models.

The findings have important implications for our understanding of nature’s role in mitigating climate change. For example, reforestation may make less sense than we have hoped so far. “Many of the plans that governments and companies are developing to address climate change rely on using plants and forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the ecosystem,” Graven explains. “But our research shows that carbon stored in living plants does not stay there for as long as previously thought. This shows that natural carbon removal projects have their limits. We must quickly stop using fossil fuels to reduce climate change.”

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The research highlights the limitations of natural decarbonisation projects such as reforestation and calls for a more urgent approach to reducing fossil fuel emissions to reduce the long-term impact of climate change. In addition, improving our knowledge about the interactions between plants, ecosystems and the atmosphere is essential for developing more effective strategies to combat global warming.

In addition, the researchers argue that global climate models should be modified to gain a better understanding of how the biosphere can help combat climate change. “Scientists and policymakers need better estimates of how much carbon the Earth has absorbed in the past,” says co-author Will Fedder. “This is crucial for making accurate predictions about this important ecosystem service in the coming decades. Our research provides vital insights into how the carbon cycle works on Earth, which can help improve models used for climate change predictions.”