Researchers find arid areas absorb unexpected amounts of atmospheric carbon

April 6, 2014 9:43 PM

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Researchers find arid areas absorb unexpected amounts of atmospheric carbon

PULLMAN, Wash.—Researchers led by a Washington State University biologist have found that arid areas, among the biggest ecosystems on the planet, take up an unexpectedly large amount of carbon as levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere. The findings give scientists a better handle on the earth's carbon budget—how much carbon remains in the atmosphere as CO2, contributing to global warming, and how much gets stored in the land or ocean in other carbon-containing forms.

"It has pointed out the importance of these arid ecosystems," said R. Dave Evans, a WSU professor of biological sciences specializing in ecology and global change. "They are a major sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide, so as CO2 levels go up, they'll increase their uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere....

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