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Closely woven: water & carbon cycles

ETH_The real lowlands. A solitary myrrh tre
A recent paper published in Nature provides new evidence of how closely interwoven Earth’s water and carbon cycles are.

The different ecosystems on earth play a crucial role in absorbing CO2 emissions, regulating the amount of CO2 accumulation in Earth’s atmosphere. A recent paper published in Nature, links annual variations in atmospheric CO2 with global water availability. Through the use of satellite data, the study tracked yearly changes in the amount of water stored on land (e.g. in soil and groundwater). They found that drier years were closely associated with higher rates of atmospheric CO2 growth due to a ‘weakening of the land carbon sink’. Semi-arid ecosystems have a big influence on global water storage on land (and thus CO2 growth rates), as well as tropical forests.

These complex interactions and feedbacks between our Earth’s water and carbon cycles must be considered when looking to mitigate global climate change.

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