Climate models may have to be revised to account for greater release of carbon dioxide by soils as the temperature increases. According to an article from AFP, Finnish researchers using radiocarbon measurements found that slowly decomposing compounds in soil are more sensitive to increasing temperature than more rapidly decomposing compounds. The scientists, who published their study in the journal Ecology, noted that if global temperatures increase by 5C above preindustial levels soils would release 50% more carbon dioxide than predicted from the usual methods that are used, which rely on short-term measurements.
The Finnish Environment Institute released a statement saying “The climatic warming will increase the carbon dioxide emissions from soil more than previously estimated. This is a mechanism that will significantly accelerate the climate change. Already now the carbon dioxide emissions from soil are ten times higher than the emissions of fossil carbon. A Finnish research group has proved that the present standard measurements underestimate the effect of climate warming on emissions from the soil. The error is serious enough to require revisions in climate change estimates. In all climate models, the estimates of emissions from soil are based on measurements made using this erroneous method. Climate models must be revised so that the largest carbon storage of the land ecosystems will be estimated correctly.”
If this research is confirmed we may be reaching catastrophic climate change even soon than thought. Revision of climate models based on this research could produce even more alarming results than they have already.