Warmer temperatures due to climate change could cause soils to release additional carbon into the atmosphere, thereby enhancing climate change – but that effect diminishes over the long term, finds a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study, from UNH professor Serita Frey and co-authors from the University of California-Davis and the Marine Biological Laboratory, sheds new light on how soil microorganisms respond to temperature and could improve predictions of how climate warming will affect the carbon dioxide flux from soils.
The activities of soil microorganisms release 10 times the carbon dioxide that human activities do on a yearly basis. Historically, this release of carbon dioxide has been kept in check by plants’ uptake of the gas from the atmosphere. However, human activities are potentially upsetting this balance.