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Scientists Discover Water Availability Most Relevant for Local Carbon Sink Performance
March 3, 2017
Pioneering new research has provided a fascinating new insight in the quest to determine whether temperature or water availability is the most influential factor in determining the success of global, land-based carbon sinks.
The research, carried out by an international team of climate scientists including Professors Pierre Friedlingstein and Stephen Sitch from the University of Exeter, has revealed new clues on how land carbon sinks are regulated on both local and global scales.
The groundbreaking study revealed that, globally, the year-to-year variability of the land carbon balance - the exchange of carbon that takes place between the land biosphere and the atmosphere - responds most significantly to changes in temperature. On a more localized level, however, the study suggests that water availability is the dominant factor in determining how successfully carbon sinks are performing.
Professor Friedlingstein, Chair of Mathematical Modelling of Climate Systems at the University of Exeter said: "The strong response of the land carbon cycle to climate variability such as El Niño events has always been on our radar as a test-bed for the carbon cycle response to future climate change. Our study highlights the importance of changes in soil water availability to plants as a key element. It's not just about global temperature".