Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tropical cyclones can bury greenhouse gases: study

Reuters: Tropical cyclones may be a tiny help in slowing global warming by washing large amounts of vegetation and soil containing greenhouse gases into the sea, scientists said on Sunday. A study in Taiwan of the LiWu river showed that floods caused by typhoon Mindulle in 2004 swept into the Pacific Ocean an estimated 0.05 percent of carbon stored in leaves, branches, roots and soil on the hillsides being studied. The carbon sank to the seabed.

"Tropical cyclones could have a significant role in the transfer of atmospheric carbon dioxide to long-term deposits in the deep ocean," according to the findings in the journal Nature Geoscience. Plants soak up carbon dioxide, a natural greenhouse gas also emitted by burning fossil fuels, and store it as carbon as they grow. The carbon usually gets released back to the air when vegetation rots or is burned.

"50 to 90 million tonnes of carbon a year is thought to enter the oceans from islands of the west Pacific alone," mainly during cyclones, according to the scientists, based in Britain and Taiwan. But the scientists said the mechanism would not do much to slow warming caused by mankind, led by burning of fossil fuels….

Cyclone Ingrid was just below a Category 5 status when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image on March 8, 2005

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