WFY Today

World Forest Day 2024: Know the Truth About Why Forests Are Not Able to Absorb Carbon Dioxide.

While higher CO2 levels can initially promote photosynthesis, the sun’s warming effect works as a cruel twist, impeding the activity of enzymes that are essential to the process.

There is a quiet crisis affecting Indian forests.

Deforestation, unpredictable rainfall, and rising temperatures are making it harder for them to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), which is essential for halting global warming.

As stated in its Nationally Determined Contributions, which were amended in August 2022, the government intends to create “an additional carbon sink of 2.5–3 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.” This presents a serious threat to that ambitious objective.26,145 billion metric tons of CO2 are currently stored in the nation’s forests. Photosynthesis, the process by which plants transform sunlight and CO2 into energy and oxygen, is at the core of the problem. While rising CO2 can at first promote photosynthesis, the sun’s warming effect is like a cruel twist, impeding the activity of vital enzymes.

Changes in rainfall patterns and rising temperatures cause stress on water, further impairing this essential function. Teams led by Rajiv Kumar Chaturvedi at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Goa, and Subimal Ghosh at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, have recently discovered an unexpected fact. Although there has been an increase in green cover, CO2 levels have decreased in important wooded areas of the Northeast, Peninsular India, and the Western Ghats.

The leaf area Index (LAI), which measures a region’s overall green cover, and net primary productivity (NPP), which represents the total CO2 absorbed by plants after respiration is taken into account, were the metrics used by the scientists to study CO2 absorption by forests.

According to the study, which was published in the journal Nature on December 3, 2023, India, the country that has contributed the second most to global greening since 2000, has seen a rise in lai of 18.51 percent between 2001 and 2019, but this gain “fails to translate into increased carbon uptake due to warming constraints.”Between 2001 and 2019, there was a 6.75 percent increase in lai in the forest areas under study. Nevertheless, over the previous 20 years, their npp fell by 6.19 percent, according to Ghosh, the lead author of the Assessment Report 6 Working Group.

According to the paper, the forests under study account for over 31% of India’s net primary productivity and are also warming hotspots. Because the conclusions are only based on satellite data, they only provide a general overview.

Conducting ground observations ought to be the next course of action.“The species type—whether it is evergreen or deciduous—and the duration of seasonal shedding should be considered when calculating LAI. It is also necessary to consider the type of canopy, which is the topmost layer of leaves in a forest.

Because there is more photosynthetic area in multilayered canopies than in single-canopy forests, photosynthesis is enhanced.Though generalizations about rising temperatures are not as wise as they are about growing CO2 levels, warming is a more significant factor than rising CO2 levels. A scientist at the Kerala Forest Research Institute in Thissur named K. Sreejith thinks that species-specific research is necessary to fully understand the effects of global warming.

Reversing roles A number of short-term experiments using ground-level data have been conducted around the nation in recent years to examine the effects of rising CO2 levels on forests and their vegetation. Although the research is dispersed, it generally suggests that global warming is having a negative effect on forests.In comparison to the winter of 2018–19, the scientists also saw a delay in the process of leaf senescence, which is the aging-related degeneration that leads to the production of seeds and fruits.

The report states, “To fully understand the impact of climate change, a longer period of investigation is necessary to explore the structural and functional implications of this shift in these forests.”

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