A recent study published in the journal “Science Advances” has provided some optimistic news for our planet. Researchers have found that plants may be able to absorb more atmospheric CO2 than previously thought. Despite this promising outlook, scientists emphasize that it should not be used as a reason for governments to slow down on their efforts to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible.
Dr. Jurgen Knauer, who led the research team at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University, explained that a well-established climate model predicts a stronger and more sustained carbon absorption by plants until the end of the 21st century when accounting for critical physiological processes that govern photosynthesis. These processes include how efficiently carbon dioxide moves through leaves, how plants adapt to temperature changes, and how they distribute nutrients in their canopy. These mechanisms are often overlooked in global models but have a significant impact on a plant’s ability to fix carbon.
The study focused on photosynthesis, which is the process by which plants convert CO2 into sugars, acting as a natural climate change mitigator. While it’s unclear how vegetation will respond to CO2, temperature, and precipitation changes in the future, researchers found that more complex models incorporating plant physiological processes consistently projected stronger increases in carbon uptake by vegetation globally. The effects of these processes amplified each other, leading to even stronger results when taken into account together – just like in real-world scenarios.