London, April 28 (ANI): In a new research, ecologists have determined that hurricanes can reduce the ability of forests to store carbon dioxide (CO2) and turn them into overall emitters of the toxic greenhouse gas.
According to a report in New Scientist, for the research, ecologist Jeffrey Chambers of Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and his colleagues, took the example of the forests in the US, which have been severely affected by the destruction wrecked by hurricanes over the past 150 years.
Trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow, then release it again when they die and decay.
Chambers and his colleagues used data on hurricanes and the damage they have caused to estimate the total loss of biomass in US forests for every year from 1851 to 2000.
They calculated that storm damage released an average of 25 megatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.
More detailed measurements for the 1980s suggest that because of this damage, US forests absorbed up to 18 per cent less CO2 than they otherwise would have - even though the decade experienced below-average hurricane damage.
At present, worldwide forest growth offsets about 25 per cent of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, says Chambers.
But if, as many climate scientists predict, hurricanes become more common or more severe, the added forest damage that will occur in the US and elsewhere could reduce that offset substantially. (ANI)