Trees and plants are known to store carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, where the plant absorbs carbon dioxide to help them grow.
As plants grow, they lock away carbon in their branches and trunk, which can play a crucial role in combating climate change.
A study, “The Global Potential for Increased Storage of Carbon On Land”, published on 30 May 2022 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), investigates how to increase the potential of land and forest to store carbon to stop global warming.
The study provides a series of geospatial maps that improve our understanding of the global gap between current and potential carbon storage on land and offers a framework for action to realize the full potential of land-based carbon storage as a natural climate solution (Woodwell Climate Research, 2022).
Discussing the capacity of forests and soils to sequester high amounts of carbon, the study’s lead author and Carbon Program Director at Woodwell Climate Research Center, Dr Wayne Walker, says, “From forests to soils, terrestrial ecosystems store enormous amounts of carbon globally, and are capable of storing even more”.
Walker adds, “But realizing the untapped potential of land to aid in addressing the climate crisis means understanding how much storage space is available, where in the world that space is located, and what actions can be taken in those places to take advantage of the opportunity they offer as rapidly as possible. This study provides the data and conceptual framework for doing that.”
The maps revealed the massive potential of forests or terrestrial ecosystems – above and underground to store carbon dioxide. Global maps show 287 petagrams of ‘untapped’ carbon storage, where 78% is available in woody biomass and 22% in soils across tropical, temperate, and boreal climate zones.
Harnessing the land-based carbon storage potential will entail improved forest management and maintenance and that of other woody systems and forest restoration. Improved management of existing forests offers more than 75% of the untapped carbon storage potential, with the majority (71%) found in tropical ecosystems.
According to the article, “New global study identifies opportunities for increasing carbon storage on land to mitigate climate change,” both the IPCC report and the study identify land-based, natural climate solutions as necessary for driving large-scale greenhouse gas emissions reductions and enhanced removals.
These efforts—including maintenance, management, and restoration of terrestrial systems—require globally consistent frameworks to accurately address current gaps and inform landscape-level planning and targeted mitigation solutions. This study introduces a critical dataset for achieving these efforts (Woodwill Climate, 2022).
The video from the Center for Food Safety explains how soils capture and stores carbon and why taking good care of it can increase their carbon sequestration capacity:
Click the link below to know more about the study:
Woodwell Climate Research Center. (2022, 30 May). New global study identifies opportunities for increasing carbon storage on land to mitigate climate change. Phys.Org. Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2022-05-global-opportunities-carbon-storage-mitigate.html
Walker, W.S., S.R. Gorelik, S.C. Cook-Patton, A. Baccini, M.K. Farina, K.K. Solvik, P.W. Ellis, J. Sanderman, R.A. Houghton, S.M. Leavitt, C.R. Schwalm, and B.W. Griscom. 2022. The global potential for increased storage of carbon on land. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2111312119
Center for Food Safety. (2015, 20 November). Soil Solutions to Climate Problems – Narrated by Micheal Pollan. . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxqBzrx9yIE&t=143s