The world’s forests are losing their ability to absorb carbon due to increasingly ‘unstable’ conditions caused by humans, a landmark study has found.
Dramatic changes to forests, and other habitats that store carbon in plants and soils, are becoming more likely in some regions across Earth, with less carbon consistently absorbed by the ‘land carbon sink’ provided by trees, soil and plants, according to scientists writing in Nature.
The short-term impacts of rising temperatures, deforestation and farming on many vulnerable landscapes means carbon stores on land are less likely to recover in the longer term, the scientists say. This reduces the overall storage capacity of the land to absorb carbon and undermines global efforts to curb or reduce levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
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