Woods Hole Research Center Report Examines Carbon Emissions in Tropics Region

WOODS HOLE – A new report released by scientists with the Woods Hole Research Center indicates that the tropics are now actually emitting more carbon than they capture.

The finding, published in the journal Science, comes as the result of a radically new approach to measuring changes in forest carbon density.

According to the new study, the shift from carbon “sink” to carbon source was caused by deforestation, degradation, and disturbance. 

The authors say that the findings add new urgency to the critical need for aggressive national and global-scale efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Importantly, the study suggests there is a critical window of opportunity to reverse the trend in emissions by halting deforestation and degradation, and actively restoring forests where they have been lost.

Using this new capability, the researchers discovered that tropics represent a net source of carbon to the atmosphere – about 425 teragrams of carbon annually – which is more than the annual emissions from all cars and trucks in the United States.

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