A dreaded carbon time bomb lurks beneath your feet

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There are many uncertainties when it comes to global warming, from how quickly the planet’s ice sheets will melt to how global leaders will enact rapid emissions cuts. One nagging scientific uncertainty concerns a rather unsexy topic: the soil. As in, the ground beneath your feet. 

There is growing concern that terrestrial soils, which are the Earth’s largest reservoir of carbon outside of the oceans, will switch from being a net absorber of greenhouse gases to a net source. 

This can happen as microbes in the soil break down organic matter more quickly, thereby releasing carbon dioxide. As Arctic soils warm, these microbes will go to work there for the first time, emitting what had been carbon frozen in the ground into the atmosphere. Read more…

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