Scientists have long feared this ‘feedback’ to the climate system. Now they say it’s happening – Washington Post

GR:  The potential for runaway global warming is growing. This is an important article that we shouldn’t ignored. Of course, one might argue that when you are chained across the railroad tracks, you might as well ignore the approaching train. If that’s where we are, perhaps its time for the Champaign.

“At a time when a huge pulse of uncertainty has been injected into the global project to stop the planet’s warming, scientists have just raised the stakes even further.

“In a massive new study published Wednesday in the influential journal Nature, no less than 50 authors from around the world document a so-called climate system “feedback” that, they say, could make global warming considerably worse over the coming decades.

“That feedback involves the planet’s soils, which are a massive repository of carbon due to the plants and roots that have grown and died in them, in many cases over vast time periods (plants pull in carbon from the air through photosynthesis and use it to fuel their growth). It has long been feared that as warming increases, the microorganisms living in these soils would respond by very naturally upping their rate of respiration, a process that in turn releases carbon dioxide or methane, leading greenhouse gases.

“It’s this concern that the new study validates. “Our analysis provides empirical support for the long-held concern that rising temperatures stimulate the loss of soil C to the atmosphere, driving a positive land C–climate feedback that could accelerate planetary warming over the twenty-first century,” the paper reports.

“This, in turn, may mean that even humans’ best efforts to cut their emissions could fall short, simply because there’s another source of emissions all around us. The very Earth itself.” –Chris Mooney (please continue reading:  Scientists have long feared this ‘feedback’ to the climate system. Now they say it’s happening – The Washington Post)

Alpine soils storing up to a third less carbon as summers warm – Carbon Brief

Robert McSweeney, 13.06.2016:  The top metre of the world’s soils contains three times as much carbon as the entire atmosphere. This means that losing carbon from the soil can quicken the pace of human-caused climate warming.

A new paper, published today in Nature Geoscience, finds this is already happening in the forests of the German Alps. Soils there are losing carbon as summer temperatures rise, the researchers say.

In the last three decades, soil carbon across the German Alps has decreased by an average of 14% – and by as much as 32% for certain types of soils.  Source: Alpine soils storing up to a third less carbon as summers warm – Carbon Brief

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Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas | Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative

Source: Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas | Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative

GR:  You can download the Atlas free.

Better land use one of the keys to slowing global warming

Soil Erosion--3GR: Carbon storage in soils equates to fertility. Over most of the Earth’s land surfaces, grazing and farming lead to loss of topsoil, the upper soil layer that holds the carbon. It will be very difficult to improve the current wasteful practices since the growing human population is urgently demanding more meat and potatoes. Unlike disaster movies with a positive conclusion, our waste of the soil will lead to a bad ending. Unlike the alien invaders in the movie Independence Day, we humans cannot move on when our resources are exhausted.

Summit County Citizens Voice

Study quantifies climate benefits of sustainable land use

Staff Report

Switching to more sustainable forms of land use management could significantly boost the carbon-storing capacity of the planet’s soils — by up to 8 billion tons of greenhouse gases, scientists reported in a new study. Previous research shows that soils currently lock away around 2.4 trillion tonnes of greenhouse gases, which are stored underground as stable organic matter.

The measures identified by the researchers include growing crops with deeper root systems and using charcoal-based composts. Widespread adoption sustainable land use practices and and application of best available technologies could help soils store up to 80 percent of greenhouse gases released by fossil fuel combustion, the researchers calculated.

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