Leaky Carbon Faucet

Better call that plumber, we’ve got some leaky carbon over here!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Carbon dioxide, or C-O-2, is rising in the atmosphere. And we rely on large, dense forests called carbon sinks to suck it up. But exactly how much C-O-2 can these forests capture?

Meet Alessandro Baccini [bah-CHEE-nee] from Woods Hole Research Center. His team combined field measurements and satellite images of the world’s tropical forests. They then used machine learning to estimate changes in carbon levels for the past decade.

What did they find?

Their maps showed that tropical forests take in over four hundred million tons of carbon. But they lose DOUBLE that each year! Meaning forests we rely on to help lower C-O-2 levels are making things worse. But what flips the switch from collection to leakage?

Baccini thinks this change is due to forests thinning via things like drought and logging. This in turn destroys their ability to suck up C-O-2.

It will take more than Drano to help solve this C-O-2 conundrum. Perhaps a greener planet-hold product, to turn our forests from leaky faucets — back into sinks!