Droughts, heat waves and other extreme climate-related events are growing concerns in a warming world. Studies have found climate change is already fueling an increase in some extreme events and that they’re likely to worsen as temperatures continue to climb.
Now, new research suggests the reverse may also be true—these events, themselves, could also worsen climate change.
Weather and climate events tend to affect the amount of moisture contained in the soil, according to the study published in the journal Nature. Unusually hot or dry periods, for instance, will temporarily lead to drier earth. And these fluctuations in soil moisture can have a huge impact on the amount of carbon the Earth is able to absorb, the study found.
Using earth system models, the authors calculated land might actually absorb about twice as much carbon if it weren’t for the fluctuations caused by these unusual weather and climate events. [Continue reading…]