Plants may be able to limit the impact of our CO2 emissions
Plants may be able to limit the impact of our CO2 emissions even more than we previously thought, an innovative new experiment suggests.
The study is the first to try to create a simplified self-contained replica of the Earth's land-based carbon cycle, using soil and plants in airtight containers. As researchers increased temperature and CO2 levels, the plants kept absorbing the extra gas for longer than computer models and earlier experiments had predicted.
In fact, they took in 62 per cent of the extra CO2 and prevented the temperature from increasing by more than 2.3°C. At that point the gas's concentration was still beneath 500 parts per million (ppm). Without the plants' increased activity, it would have been 760ppm, implying warming of around 4.4°C.