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CO2-loving plants can counter human emissions

Under right conditions, photosynthesis-respiration cycle stems accelerating rise of atmospheric gas

By
11:00am, November 8, 2016
plants

PLANT POWER  Plants absorbed more carbon dioxide during the first few years of the new millennium than they released. That imbalance temporarily steadied the rise of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, new research suggests.

Plants temporarily halted the acceleration of rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, new research suggests.

From 2002 through 2014, CO2 levels measured over the oceans climbed from around 372 parts per million to 397 parts per million. But the average rate of that rise remained steady despite increasing carbon emissions from human activities, researchers report online November 8 in Nature Communications. After pouring over climate measurements and simulations, the researchers attribute this steadying to changes in the relative amount of CO2 absorbed and released by plants.

The work is the first to clearly demonstrate that plants can affect the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 over long time periods, says study coauthor Trevor Keenan, an earth systems scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Still, human emissions remain the dominant driver of CO2 levels, he

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