Congo Rainforest Losing Ability to Absorb Carbon Dioxide -
Increasing heat and drought is believed to be stifling the growth of the trees in the African rainforest, a phenomenon previously noted in the Amazon. The new data provides the first large-scale evidence that tropical rainforests around the world that have been untouched by logging or other human activity are losing their potency to fight climate change.
Wannes Hubau, a forest ecologist from the Africa Museum in Brussels, measures one of the massive trees in a plot at the Yangambi Research Station in Congo. He is using a forester’s tape measure that converts the trunk’s circumference into its diameter, a figure used to determine the amount of carbon the tree contains. (Daniel Grossman)
The study predicts that by 2030, the African jungle will absorb 14 percent less carbon dioxide than it did 10 to 15 years ago. By 2035, Amazonian trees won’t absorb any carbon dioxide at all, the researchers said.
By the middle of the century, the remaining uncut tropical forests in Africa, the Amazon and Asia will release more carbon dioxide than they take up — the carbon “sink” will have turned into a carbon source.
Tropical forests will add to the problem of climate change, rather than mitigating against.
The results imply that unless nations accelerate efforts to counter climate change, temperatures will rise even faster than anticipated. This includes lowering emissions, saving energy, and planting trees!