Ecosystems haven’t maxed out ability to absorb fossil fuel emissions
BOULDER, Colo. — Earth’s ecosystems keep soaking up more carbon as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere, new measurements find.
The research contradicts several recent studies suggesting that “carbon sinks” have reached or passed their capacity. By looking at global measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the new work calculates instead that total sinks have increased roughly in line with rising emissions.
“The sinks have been more than able to keep up with emissions,” said Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. Tans presented the findings May 15 at an annual conference on global monitoring hosted by the lab.
Careful measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide taken in the rarefied air atop Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and elsewhere have established that levels of the gas are rising steadily,