10 December 2012

Grasslands Breathe CO2 Reducing Greenhouse Gasses by 5%

Environmental News Network http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/45308
reports that plants help humans breathe and the earth heal from human actions.

"Plants "breathe in" CO2 and create biological mass. This is a form of sequestration.

 Forests, grasslands and shrublands and other ecosystems in the West sequester nearly 100 million tons of carbon each year, according to a Department of the Interior recent report.

Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica. In temperate latitudes, such as northwestern Europe and the Great Plains and California in North America, native grasslands are dominated by perennial bunch grass species, whereas in warmer climates annual species form a greater component of the vegetation.

Carbon that is absorbed through natural processes reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The 100 million tons sequestered in western ecosystems is an amount equivalent to — and counterbalances the emissions of — more than 83 million passenger cars a year in the United States, or nearly 5 percent of EPA’s 2010 estimate of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions."

Other major findings of the report included:

"Wild land fires generated significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions in the West, with such emissions equivalent to 13 percent of the estimated rate of the recent annual carbon sequestration by terrestrial ecosystems in the West.

Water bodies in the western United States emitted even more CO2 than fires. Emissions from water bodies are equivalent to more than 30 percent of the recent annual carbon sequestration rate of terrestrial ecosystems in the West."

Click over to the ENN link above to read their report or to USGS to read the entire 192-page "Baseline and Projected Future Carbon Storage and Greenhouse-Gas Fluxes in Ecosystems of the Western United States" at http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1797/pdf/PP1797_WholeDocument.pdf.
 

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