Amazon Rainforest Breathes In More Than It Breathes Out

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Pristine Amazon forests pull in more carbon dioxide than they put back into the atmosphere, according to a new study. The findings confirm that natural Amazon forests help reduce global warming by lowering the planet's greenhouse gas levels, the researchers said.

When scientists account for the world's carbon dioxide, their totals suggest some of thegreenhouse gas disappears into land-based carbon traps. These natural carbon "sinks," such as forests, absorb and store carbon dioxide, helping to lower the greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. (Living trees take in carbon dioxide, which they need to grow. Dead trees release their stored carbon back into the atmosphere, through decay.)

But the model of a rainforest as carbon sink is based on small, heavily-studied tree areas called test plots, which means the concept could lose its accuracy when scaled up to the size of a continent. For example, in the Amazon forest, huge swaths of trees can die at once, which can't be accounted for by test plots. In 2005, a single storm killed half a billion trees in the Amazon forest.

To better measure the carbon on the rainforest's breath, researchers tracked tree death throughout the Amazon. Lead study author Fernando Espírito-Santo, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., combined satellite data, airborne lidar (laser surface imagery) and tree counts to compare carbon consumed by living trees with emissions from dead trees.

Espírito-Santo found that dead Amazonian trees emit an estimated 1.9 billion tons (1.7 billion metric tons) of carbon to the atmosphere each year. In a normal year, the Amazon rainforest absorbs about 2.2 billion tons (2 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide, studies suggest. And the big storms that blow down millions of trees at once barely budge the forest's carbon output, the study found.

Written By: Becky Oskin
continue to source article at livescience.com

6 COMMENTS

  1. Espírito-Santo found that dead Amazonian trees emit an estimated 1.9 billion tons (1.7 billion metric tons) of carbon to the atmosphere each year. In a normal year, the Amazon rainforest absorbs about 2.2 billion tons (2 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide, studies suggest. And the big storms that blow down millions of trees at once barely budge the forest’s carbon output, the study found.

    Ah! But the illegal loggers and slash and burn brigade of land grabbers are redressing the balance as quickly as they can!

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission-pages/landsat/news/40th-top10-amazon.html#.UzB1-s4-REc

  2. Tony Abbott approves ripping trees out by the truckload in Australia then carbon taxes everyone and everything which will eventually send Qantas Airlines into receivership, DONT expect our government to make any wise decisions

  3. At the rate the Amazon rainforest is being deforested, very soon we will breathe more carbon dioxide than oxygen. The Brazilian government is unable to put an end to the huge illegal deforestation carried out every year by land owners, private contractors and poor people, who acting like termites, are trying to get some land for a living.

  4. the study did not account for [ ] logging – deforestation

    Would become moot, if humans cut way back on beef consumption.

    McDonald’s alone gets meat from cattle farms in South America. For some reason, u.s. cattle industry is “struggling”, leading to USDA proposal of importing beef from Brazil.

    No beef on the table, so to speak, eliminates worries of hoof and mouth disease / deforestation. If folks bang their fork and knife, well, “sorry Charlie, deal. with. it.”.

    • In reply to #5 by bluebird:

      the study did not account for [ ] logging – deforestation

      Would become moot, if humans cut way back on beef consumption.

      McDonald’s alone gets meat from cattle farms in South America. For some reason, u.s. cattle industry is “struggling”, leading to USDA proposal of importing beef from Brazil…No beef on the table, so to speak, eliminates worries of hoof and mouth disease / deforestation. If folks bang their fork and knife, well, “sorry Charlie, deal. with. it.”.

      Or even, ‘Charlie don’t surf and turf.’

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