A new study published in Science Advances has revealed that the world’s plants may absorb more carbon dioxide than previously predicted due to human activities. While this optimistic finding does not mean efforts to reduce carbon emissions should be slowed down, it emphasizes the importance of conserving vegetation for its long-term benefits.
A research team led by the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western University of Sydney found that a climate model used in global climate predictions predicts increased carbon uptake by plants until the end of the 21st century. The efficiency of carbon dioxide processing within plants and how they adapt to changes in temperature and nutrient distribution were critical factors that affect their ability to absorb carbon.
Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert carbon dioxide into sugars, reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. While greater absorption is beneficial, it’s uncertain how future changes in gas, temperature, and precipitation will affect vegetation’s carbon uptake.
The research team used modeling to evaluate how vegetation carbon uptake would respond to global climate change under a high-emissions scenario until the end of the 21st century. They discovered that more intense droughts and severe heat due to climate change could weaken terrestrial ecosystems’ absorptive capacity.
This study highlights the complexities of carbon uptake by plants and underscores continued efforts to reduce emissions while stressing conservation’s importance for sustainable outcomes.