The university’s Remote Sensing Laboratory estimates that 405 billion tons of carbon are stored in ecosystems across the country. If global temperatures rise and this is broken or disrupted by human activity, carbon could be released into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change.
The total amount of carbon that the researchers plotted equals 30 years of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions based on 2019 emissions, the university said in a statement issued by science news portal Phys.org.
These soil reservoirs are key to achieving a limit on global warming to 1.5°C, says Alemu Gonsamo, a laboratory researcher.
In the first comprehensive analysis of its kind, researchers found that in Canada, 95 percent of the coal is in the top one meter of soil, 24 percent of which is bog. The remaining 5 percent is stored in trees, other plants, dead plant matter, and roots.
Soils are the largest carbon store on land, with carbon stocks exceeding the combined amount of carbon sequestered in the atmosphere and plant biomass. Soil carbon content is determined by the amount of organic matter in the soil.
“Tens of thousands of field measurements, including data from space-based laser-based remote sensors, have been fed into the algorithm to teach satellite monitoring systems to quantify carbon in plant biomass and soils across Canada,” Gonsamu said.
The densest and carbon-rich areas are found in the coastal forests of British Columbia, the subarctic forests, and the plains of the Hudson and James Bay (peat bogs).
Megan Leslie was quoted as saying: “Knowing where the coal deposits are in Canada allows us to strategically protect and remediate these areas to prevent billions of tons of carbon emissions from the atmosphere. Protecting these areas is also beneficial for wildlife.” President and CEO of the EurekAlert Science News Portal. The study was led by the World Conservation Fund (WWF).
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