New study from the University of Minnesota suggests reevaluating global carbon emissions targets.
Because plants need carbon dioxide to grow, scientists have expected rising atmospheric CO2 to substantially enhance plant growth, offsetting a portion of human CO2 emissions and, in turn, slowing climate change. However, new research adds to a growing body of research challenging this expectation.
The authors identify two important factors that could be driving the divergence between satellite-based results and model-based results: availability of water and availability of nutrients. Satellite data indicate that warmer climate conditions resulting from rising atmospheric CO2 may be increasing plant water stress, counteracting any positive effect of CO2. Additionally, limited availability of nitrogen and phosphorus in the environment could also limit the ability of plants to soak up additional CO2 (see also previous work co-authored by Smith). –(December 2015) from a ScienceDaily press release.