Researchers have found that in hot, dry climates, trees struggle to respire and capture carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere by human activities. Research casts doubt on trees' ability to offset some of man's carbon footprint. Trees capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which fuels their growth through photosynthesis. In stressful situations, trees release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere through a process called photorespiration. Researchers have found that in warmer climates, especially under water-scarce conditions, the rate of photosynthesis doubles.
The findings provide new insights into how plants may respond to global warming, and challenge conventional beliefs about the role and capabilities of trees in dealing with human-induced climate change. Plants play a significant role in the carbon cycle, and photosynthetic organisms are essential for scavenging carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Human activity has disturbed natural processes, and scientists still do not fully understand all the interconnected processes in vast, complex global ecosystems. The US Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that plants absorb 25 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by humans each year, but this number is likely to decrease on a warming planet.
A paper describing the findings Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Lead author of the research, Max Lloyd He says„We found that trees in hot, dry climates cough instead of breathe. They pass more CO2 back into the atmosphere than trees in cool, wet conditions. Researchers want to examine photosynthesis rates in the historical past, providing insights into how plants may respond to climate change in the future. There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than at any time in 3.6 billion years.
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