Sep 29, 2017

Disturbed rainforests release more carbon dioxide than they absorb

Deforestation in the Amazon. Photo: Marcelo Horn / iStock

Tropical rainforests are known for their greenhouse gas gobbling abilities, but human impacts may have changed that. According to a study published Thursday in Science, tropical rainforests may be emitting more CO2 than they soak up.

"Much of that carbon contribution is due to deforestation … but more than two-thirds comes from a less visible source: a decline in the number and diversity of trees in remaining forests," writes Carolyn Gramling for Science News.

Yes, but: NASA scientist Joshua Fisher told Science News that this study only looked at above-ground carbon. Much CO2 is absorbed by rainforest soils, and atmospheric data still indicates that rainforests are net carbon absorbers, not emitters.

What they did: The researchers developed an algorithm that allowed them to measure the carbon density of forests from satellite images, taken yearly from 2003-2014.

What they found: According to the study, rainforests emit 862 tetragrams of carbon a year, but only absorb 436 tetragrams/year.

Go deeper:

  • Forest destruction emits more carbon than trucks and cars, says Reuters.
  • "This shows that we can't just sit back. The forest is not doing what we thought it was doing," study author Alessandro Baccini told the Guardian. He adds that when it comes to reducing carbon, fixing forests is "low-hanging fruit. We know how to protect and sustain forests. It's relatively cost effective"

Go deeper

Why the coronavirus pandemic is hitting minorities harder

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The coronavirus’ disproportionate impact on black and Latino communities has become a defining part of the pandemic.

The big picture: That's a result of myriad longstanding inequities within the health care system and the American economy.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 6,804,044 — Total deaths: 362,678 — Total recoveries — 2,788,806Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 1,909,077 — Total deaths: 109,497 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight coronavirus, CDC says Fauci: "Very concerned" about spread of virus amid George Floyd protests — Cities offer free testing for protesters.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model as use of robots accelerates.
  5. Business: Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus.
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.

In photos: George Floyd's North Carolina memorial service

The remains of George Floyd are brought into Cape Fear Conference B Church. Photo: Ed Clemente/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Hundreds gathered in Raeford, North Carolina to honor George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis nearly two weeks ago has sparked nationwide protests against police brutality.

The state of play: This is the second memorial for Floyd. A number of his family members remain in Raeford, including his sister. He was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, The News and Observer reports.