BRISTOL, England, Nov. 16 (UPI) — A British study suggests Earth’s ecosystems and oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb carbon dioxide than has been previously estimated.
The study, led by researcher Wolfgang Knorr at the University of Bristol, found the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of carbon dioxide having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to the current 35 billion tons a year.
Knorr said his results run contrary to a significant body of recent research that suggests the capacity of terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans to absorb CO2 should start to diminish as CO2 emissions increase, allowing greenhouse gas levels to skyrocket.
He said the strength of his research is that it rests solely on measurements and statistical data, and does not rely on computations with complex climate models.
However, Knorr urges caution.
“Like all studies of this kind, there are uncertainties in the data, so rather than relying on nature to provide a free service, soaking up our waste carbon, we need to ascertain why the proportion being absorbed has not changed.”
The study appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International