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Forest soils release more carbon dioxide than expected in rainy season



Francisco Tutella
February 12, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Current carbon cycle models may underestimate the amount of carbon dioxide released from the soil during rainy seasons in temperate forests like those found in the northeast United States, according to Penn State researchers.

Tree roots and microbes use oxygen to convert organic carbon in the soil to carbon dioxide (CO2) for energy through a process called aerobic respiration. This release of CO2 from soils to the atmosphere represents the largest flux of carbon from terrestrial ecosystems, making it a key component of the global carbon budget. Aerobic respiration is the dominant process contributing to this flux, but the researchers found that under wet conditions, anaerobic respiration – or respiration without oxygen — also significantly contributes to the flux. more 

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