A new study published in Science Advances suggests that the world’s plants may absorb more atmospheric carbon dioxide from human activities than previously predicted. While this finding is promising, it is important to note that simply planting more trees and protecting existing vegetation is not a silver bullet solution.
Research highlights the many benefits of conserving vegetation, including its ability to absorb a significant amount of carbon dioxide each year, which can help mitigate climate change. However, it remains unknown how much carbon dioxide plants will continue to absorb in the future.
Jürgen Knauer, leader of the research team, explains that a well-established climate model used for global predictions predicts stronger and more sustained carbon uptake until the end of the 21st century when considering critical factors often overlooked in most global models. The study evaluates modeling aimed at assessing a high-emissions climate scenario and testing how vegetation carbon uptake would respond to global climate change until the end of the 21st century.
Photosynthesis is the scientific term for the process by which plants convert carbon dioxide into sugars they use for growth and metabolism, serving as a natural mitigator of climate change by reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. This greater absorption of carbon dioxide is responsible for the growing sink of this terrestrial element recorded in recent decades. However, it remains unclear how vegetation will respond to changes in gas, temperature, and precipitation and this study aims to evaluate this within the context of climate change scenarios.