Image Source: Stock.Xchng. By: Gokoroko

For some, dealing with climate change can be a very dirty business. There are skeptics to deal with, slander, grueling expeditions and tedious research projects. In some cases, all that dirty work actually involves dirt itself, as a group of Finnish researchers recently found out. It would seem that these researchers discovered that soil emissions may contribute more to global warming than previously thought.

In a statement, the Finnish Environment Institute said:

“A Finnish research group has proved that the present standard measurements underestimate the effect of climate warming on emissions from the soil.” … “The error is serious enough to require revisions in climate change estimate.”

The institute also added that even though soil emissions were already known to have a significant influence on global warming, previous studies only took into account short-term measurements. These measurements gave “systematically biased estimates on the effects of climate change on the emissions”.

Published in the journal Ecology, the research was carried out by the Dating Laboratory of the Finnish Museum of Natural History, the Finnish Environment Institute, and the Finnish Forest Research Institute. The scientists conducted their experiments in a number of boreal forests. They used radiocarbon measurements, which showed that the soil compounds that were more abundant and decomposed at a slower pace were more sensitive to increasing temperatures.

These measurements indicated that “carbon dioxide emissions from the soil will be up to 50% higher than those suggested by the present mainstream method”. However, there are a couple other factors to take into consideration, such as if the mean global temperature will actually increase by 5 C (41 F), by the end of the century, and also if the carbon flow to the soil did not increase.

The downside is: in order to offset these increasing soil emissions, a 100 to 200% increase of forest biomass is needed. With all the deforestation happening in the world, good luck with that one.