New research suggests tropical forests are now a net source of carbon emissions
Earth’s tropical forests store an incredible amount of carbon, and as they grow they are continually absorbing even more of the carbon in the atmosphere, which is why forest protection is considered such a crucial element of strategies to mitigate global climate change.
At the same time, however, deforestation is responsible for as much as 10 percent of total global carbon emissions.
Whether or not our planet’s rainforests are a net sink of carbon — meaning they sequester more than their destruction by human activities causes them to emit — is a much-debated issue. Research released today suggests an answer, however: due to complete deforestation as well as forest degradation and disturbance, tropical forests in Africa, the Americas, and Asia now emit more carbon into the atmosphere than they sequester on an annual basis, according to scientists with the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) and Boston University.