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Research: Tropical forests may emit more carbon dioxide than they absorb

Tropical forests are losing their ability to stockpile carbon dioxide, and the Amazon jungle could in the next 15 years produce a larger amount of that gas than it absorbs, according to the results of a study quoted by the France Press. These conclusions should prompt scientists to revise forecasts of the amount of carbon dioxide humanity can produce, taking into account the Paris climate agreement's goal of limiting the rise in average global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius.
Tropical forests are currently linked to 50 percent of global carbon dioxide absorption capacity, but are approaching the saturation threshold as a result of an increase in human-induced greenhouse emissions. The ability of forests to capture carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through photosynthesis has been reduced due to the disappearance of trees due to fires, drought and deforestation. This capability is declining faster in the Amazon than in sub-Saharan Africa, BTA transmits.

Scientists from Europe and Africa tracked the growth and death of trees in African rainforests over a 50-year period and the data obtained compared with similar information on the Amazon jungle. Some forests were found to have quickly covered larger territories after being stimulated by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. However, this positive effect was “offset” by droughts and extreme temperatures.

After using the data in question to make predictions for the next 20 years, scientists concluded that the ability of African forests to absorb carbon dioxide would decline by 14 percent by 2030, and that of the Amazon jungle would disappear by 2035. “Decrease outpaces the most pessimistic forecasts by decades,” noted forest ecosystems expert Vanes Yubo of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Brussels.


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