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Rate of Growth in Atmospheric CO2 Declining Because of Plants

Nov 14, 2016 06:16 AM EST

The rate of growth of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere has declined despite a growth in CO2 emissions from humans because of a boost in the intake of the gas by the plants, claims a new study.

Alterations in the rates of respiration in the ecosystem and photosynthesis have led to a massive carbon sink as reported by a team of international scientists in Nature Communications. Dr. Pep Canadell, a research scientist at CSIRO and co-author, said that a growth in the level of carbon dioxide from 2002 to 2014 had resulted in an increased photosynthetic activity in plants. It was during the same time when a decrease in the rise of temperatures around the globe, referred to as the hiatus period, resulted in a decline in respiration.

To those unfamiliar, respiration is a process where plants give out carbon dioxide. Because of these two determinants, the global vegetation absorbed excessive carbon dioxide and trimmed the rate of growth in the quantity of atmospheric CO2 by nearly 2.2 percent every year in the last 12 years.

Dr. Canadell described this as a huge "climate change discount" where 50 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by humans is even less to maintain the normal levels of the gas.

According to the researchers, vegetation both on land and sea removed approximately 45 percent of the carbon dioxide breathed out by humans every year. While the levels of the gas have been increasing ever since the Industrial Revolution,  the team noticed a considerable difference in the rate at which the growth took place, mainly driven by differences in growth of plants every year.

Observations made from the satellite also indicated that the earth was "greening" and regions that were previously extremely cold or absolutely dry have now started sustaining plant life.  Also, areas with greenery had turned out to be greener than before. Dr. Canadell said that the slowdown in the rate of increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide  may be temporary since the hiatus period has now come to an end.

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