DATE: October 5, 2017
SNIP: Warming soils are releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought, suggesting a potentially disastrous feedback mechanism whereby increases in global temperatures will trigger massive new carbon releases in a cycle that may be impossible to break.
The increased production of carbon comes from the microbes within soils, according to a report in the peer-review journal Science, published on Friday.
The 26-year study is one of the biggest of its kind, and is a groundbreaking addition to our scant knowledge of exactly how warming will affect natural systems.
Potential feedback loops, or tipping points, have long been suspected to exist by scientists, and there is some evidence for them in the geological record. What appears to happen is that once warming reaches a certain point, these natural biological factors kick in and can lead to a runaway, and potentially unstoppable, increase in warming.