Forests have a finite capacity to soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a recent study from Northern Arizona University. Results published in the online journal New Phytologist illustrate how today’s rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) might alter the carbon and nitrogen content of ecosystems.
In contrast to expectations, research over an 11-year period showed that ecosystem carbon uptake was not significantly increased by high CO2. While plants did contain more carbon in the presence of higher CO2 levels, the soil lost carbon content due to microbial decomposition. These factors essentially canceled each other out, signifying that nature cannot entirely self-correct against climate change.