Technology

Earth to reach temperature tipping point in next 20 to 30 years, new study finds


Lead author Katharyn Duffy, a postdoctoral researcher at NAU, noticed sharp declines in photosynthesis above this temperature threshold in nearly every biome across the globe, even after removing other effects such as water and sunlight.


"The Earth has a steadily growing fever, and much like the human body , we know every biological process has a range of temperatures at which it performs optimally, and ones above which function deteriorates," Duffy said.


She teamed up with researchers at Woodwell Climate and the University of Waikato who recently developed a new approach to answer that question: MacroMolecular Rate Theory (MMRT).


But at the current rate of emissions, up to half the terrestrial biosphere could experience temperatures beyond that productivity threshold by mid-century—and some of the most carbon-rich biomes in the world, including tropical rainforests in the Amazon and Southeast Asia and the Taiga in Russia and Canada, will be among the first to hit that tipping point.


"The most striking thing our analysis showed is that the temperature optima for photosynthesis in all ecosystems were so low," said Vic Arcus, a biologist at the University of Waikato and co-author of the study.


Without curbing warming to remain at or below the levels established in the Paris Climate Accord, the land carbon sink will not continue to offset our emissions and buy us time."






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