Home / Science / A new study finds that the world will reach a temperature tipping point in the next 20 to 30 years.

A new study finds that the world will reach a temperature tipping point in the next 20 to 30 years.



The world will reach a temperature tipping point in the next 20 to 30 years, a new NAU study finds.

This graphic shows the temperature tipping point at which Earth̵

7;s plants begin to reduce the amount of human-induced carbon they can absorb.credit: Victor O. Leshyk / Northern Arizona University.

The Earth’s ability to absorb nearly a third of human-induced carbon emissions through plants could halve within the next two decades, according to current heating rates. Scientific breakthrough It was led by researchers from Northern Arizona University, Woodwell Climate Research Center and the University of Waikato, New Zealand. The team has used more than two decades of data from measurement towers in all major living things around the world.The team has identified a temperature tipping point too critical for plants to capture and store carbon in the atmosphere, a cumulative effect. The so-called – will decrease as the temperature continues to rise.


Terrestrial biosphere, which is the activity of terrestrial plants and soil microorganisms, performs the Earth’s “breathing” function by exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen. Ecosystems around the world draw carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and release it back into the atmosphere through microbial and plant respiration. Over the past few decades, biospherees generally have received more carbon than those released to mitigate climate change.

But as record-breaking temperatures continue to spread throughout the world, this may not continue.NAU researchers, Woodwell Climate, and Waikato have detected a higher temperature threshold at which plants slower to absorb carbon and accelerate carbon release. up

Lead author Katharyn Duffy, a postdoctoral researcher at NAU, observed a rapid drop in photosynthesis above this temperature threshold in almost all living things around the world, although other effects such as water and sunlight have been eliminated.

“The world is getting more and more fever, and like the human body, we know that every biological process has a certain temperature at which it works optimally, and higher temperatures degrade its function,” Duffy says. Ask how much the plant can tolerate?

This study is the first to detect the temperature threshold for photosynthesis from global observational data. While the temperature criteria for photosynthesis and respiration are being studied in the laboratory, Fluxnet data provides a window into how ecosystems around the world are experiencing and how they respond.

“We know the optimal temperature for humans is about 37 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit), but we in science don’t know what those optima are for the terrestrial biosphere,” Duffy said.

She collaborated with researchers at Woodwell Climate and the University of Waikato, who recently developed a new approach to answer that question: MacroMolecular Rate Theory (MMRT) .Based on the principles of thermodynamics, MMRT allows researchers to create temperature curves for all living things. Important and worldwide

The results were shocking.

The researchers found that the “highest” temperature for carbon uptake – 18 ° C for the more widespread C3 plants and 28 ° C for the C4 plants – were already beyond natural. But did not see the respiratory temperature monitor This means that in many organisms, sustained heat degrades photosynthesis, while the rate of respiration is exponentially increasing, balancing ecosystems from carbon sinks to carbon sources and accelerating transformation. Climate

“Plants differ in detail in their response to temperature. But they all show that photosynthesis decreases when it gets overheated, ”said NAU co-author George Koch.

Now less than 10 percent of the terrestrial biosphere experiences temperatures above this photosynthetic maximum. But at current emissions rates, up to half of the terrestrial biosphere may have exceeded the production threshold by the middle of the century – and some of the world’s most carbon-rich organisms, including the tropical rainforests in Amazon and Southeast Asia, and The taiga in Russia and Canada will be among the first to be popular.

“The most striking aspect of our analysis showed that the optimum temperature for photosynthesis in all ecosystems is very low,” said Vic Arcus, a biologist at the University of Waikato and co-author of the study. “Combined with the increasing ecological respiration rate over the temperatures we observe, our findings suggest that any temperature rise above 18 ° C could harm the carbon basin on the ground without any potential damage. Keep the heat at or below a certain level in the Paris Accord climate. Onshore carbon sinks will not compensate for our emissions and buy us time. ”


Plants take up less carbon in a warming world.


More information:
KA Duffy el al., “How close are we to the terrestrial biosphere temperature tipping point?” Scientific breakthrough (2021) .advances.sciencemag.org/lookup… .1126 / sciadv.aay1052

Provided by Northern Arizona University

Reference: The world will reach a temperature tipping point in the next 20 to 30 years, a new study finds (2021, January 13) .Retrieved January 13, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-01-earth-temperature- years.html

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