Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Increased tropical forest growth could release carbon from the soil

Research by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the University of Cambridge shows that as climate change enhances tree growth in tropical forests, the resulting increase in litterfall could stimulate soil micro-organisms leading to a release of stored soil carbon.

The study, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, looked at rainforest at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, Central America, to study how increases in litterfall - dead plant material such as leaves, bark and twigs which fall to the ground - might affect carbon storage in the soil.

Results show that extra litterfall triggers an effect called 'priming' where fresh carbon from plant litter provides much-needed energy to micro-organisms, which then stimulates the decomposition of carbon stored in the soil.

Read more here.