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Clues on how soils may respond to climate change found 2

7/31/2019

Matthew Carroll
July 24, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Rock core samples from a period of warming millions of years ago indicate soils contributed to a rapid rise in atmospheric greenhouse gas and suggest modern climate models may overestimate Earth’s ability to mitigate future warming, according to an international team of scientists. 

Researchers discovered a drastic drop in organic material preserved in sections of core samples from the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a global warming event 55.5 million years ago that’s considered the best analogue for modern climate change.

The findings, according to the researchers, suggest ancient soils from a site in modern day Wyoming acted as a source of atmospheric carbon dioxide, emitting the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, and not a sink, trapping and storing carbon underground.

The researchers said this could mean global climate models, which expect soils to be a sink, may overstate the ability of terrestrial ecosystems to lessen the impacts of climate change. However, additional studies are needed to see how soils reacted to the PETM in other parts of the world, they said. More 

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