A huge drought in the Amazon rain forest last year may have caused the release of more emissions than the U.S. is responsible for in a year.
The usually carbon-hungry forest is a major CO2 sink, but when a drought strikes and vegetation dies, all of that carbon that was stored gets released, and in the case of the major droughts that occurred last year and in 2005, the impact is pretty big.
In fact, a study published yesterday in the journal Science concludes that the Amazon would not absorb the usual 1.5 billion metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere in both 2010 and 2011 and the dying vegetation would result in a release of 5 billion metric tons of CO2, meaning a total of 8 billion metric tons of CO2 added to the atmosphere. In 2009, the U.S. was responsible for 5.4 billion metric tons of CO2 from fossil fuel use.
The scariest part of this is that climate change is causing more weather extremes like droughts, which in turn are causing more greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere, creating a vicious cycle.
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