Sensitivity of carbon cycle to tropical temperature variations has doubled
The tropical carbon cycle has become twice as sensitive to temperature variations over the past 50 years, new research has revealed.
The research shows that a one degree rise in tropical temperature leads to around two billion extra tonnes of carbon being released per year into the atmosphere from tropical ecosystems, compared with the same tropical warming in the 1960s and 1970s.
Existing Earth System Model simulations indicate that the ability of tropical land ecosystems to store carbon will decline over the 21st century. However, these models are unable to capture the increase in the sensitivity of carbon dioxide to tropical temperatures that is reported in this new study.
Research published last year by Professors Cox and Friedlingstein showed that these variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide can reveal the sensitivity of tropical ecosystems to future climate change.