Plant respiration accounts for more carbon emissions that previously thought

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In Minnesota, University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences researchers suggest plant respiration is a larger source of carbon emissions than previously thought, and warn that as the world warms, this may reduce the ability of Earth’s land surface to absorb emissions due to fossil fuel burning.

The study shows carbon release by plant respiration may be around 30 percent higher than previously predicted. As the mean global temperature increases, the researchers estimate respiration will increase significantly.  Such increases may lower the future ability of global vegetation to offset carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning fossil fuels.

“The implications of this study are enormous,” research associate Ming Chen emphasized. “The fact that plant respiration is likely 30 percent higher than previous estimates should warn all global modelers that an updated inspection is warranted regarding how we model carbon flows in and out of terrestrial ecosystems globally.”