According to new research, the planet’s CO2 levels were kept at bay by the plants’ increased photosynthesis ability to process more carbon dioxide.
The finding was the result of a multi-institutional research which was led by a scientist part of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory of the Department of Energy and was published in the Nature Communications journal.
The study was determined by previous observations which noticed that although humans activities released a higher amount of carbon dioxide, the CO2 levels remained stable.
As the carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration was situated at 400 ppm (parts per million) and continued to increase, the rate of the rise remained at a steady level of 1.9 ppm per year.
The values, which were registered in between 2002 and 2014, also showed that the levels of human activities related carbon dioxide which persisted in the atmosphere dropped by almost 20 percent.
Following a series of careful atmospheric and ground observations of the CO2 levels and also vegetation measurements done by satellites and computer modelings, researchers established that we should thank the planet’s vegetation for the constant levels.
As the human slowdown activities cannot keep up with the overall CO2 emission levels, scientists point out the ever-increasing need to protect Earth’s natural ecosystems.
Researchers determined that the constant growth of stale CO2 is based on the increase in photosynthesis whose capabilities were raised by the increased fossil fuel emissions which release CO2.
In this process which can also be described as a natural cycle of existence and adaptation, the increase in carbon dioxide generated a higher photosynthesis.
As the plant took in more CO2, it grew faster which in turn led to an increase in plant activity and to a higher carbon intake.
At the same time, plants were seen to produce less carbon dioxide through their respiration process. Plant respiration works similarly to the human one in the sense that plants can also use oxygen and in turn produce carbon dioxide.
But the plant respiration process is temperature sensitive and as the recent global warming trend registered a slowdown, so the respiration process did not keep pace with photosynthesis.
The combination of these two natural factors led to a decrease in the CO2 levels which linger in the atmosphere and also slowed its accumulation.
According to computer models, the areas that saw the highest increase in their carbon dioxide uptake are the high-latitude and tropical ecosystems.
They also seemed to suggest that terrestrial ecosystems, in general, have actually doubled their CO2 intake as compared to the 1950’s.
During the 1950’s and the following decades up to the 2000’s, the plant intake is believed to have situated between 1 to 2 petagrams per year.
The current values show that CO2 intake levels are now at around 2 to 4 petagrams per year, with a petagram marking one trillion kilograms.
With the human activity generated CO2 levels reaching up to 9 – 10 petagrams per year, humans can only be thankful and try to contribute to Mother Nature’s effort of healing herself.
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