[Update: 6 July – The SZ has reposted its story]
The left of centre German online Sueddeutsche Zeitung had, for a very short time, a quite inconvenient piece up today called, in English: News On Nature’s Respiration, which reported on findings just out from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemicals in Jena, Germany, on the earth’s CO2 cycle and possible future impacts.
Mysteriously, the SZ suddenly ripped it down from its website! Google provides the link if you punch in the original German title “Neues vom Atem der Natur“. Other news sites link to the original SZ report as well, e.g. here and here.
The SZ reported that scientists had collected and evaluated data from 60 measuring towers located in many countries and various ecosystems and presented their findings in Turin, Italy today.
The scientists determined that plants absorb 450 billion metric tonnes of CO2 through photosynthesis each year, or about one seventh of the total amount in the atmosphere. Almost 60% is absorbed by forests and savannahs in the tropics, 11% by fields for food crops.
Humans, by contrast, emit about 36 billion tonnes through their activities, of which the majority gets absorbed by the oceans and atmosphere.
And every year almost the entire 450 billion tonnes gets released by the plants through falling foliage, decay, etc.
According to the now-disappeared SZ report, researchers led by the Max Planck Institute calculated how much the amount of CO2 released would change if the temperature changed. According to the researchers, a warming of 10°C would increase the emission by 40%. According to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung report:
That is considerably less than what was often assumed earlier. Earlier a doubling or a quadrupling was often discussed. And apparently this low factor applies for everything from the frozen tundra to the tropical rainforests.
The researchers of the Max Planck Institute concluded:
This dampens the fears that global warming could accelerate from more CO2 being released by savannahs and rainforests with every degree of warming. This means that so far nature is absorbing a part of manmade CO2 year for year and stores it, thus buffering the climate effect.
Dr. Markus Reichstein of the Max Planck Institute is quoted by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung:
Especially alarmist scenarios for feedbacks from global warming and ecosystem respiration are shown to be unrealistic.
These feedback effects were not at all accounted for in the 2007 IPCC-Report.
I’ve tried to find the findings from the Max Planck Institute at their website, but haven’t been succesful yet. I think it’s very strange the SZ report would be up for about an hour, and then taken down. Someone probably didn’t like what it said.
UPDATE: I sent an e-mail to Dr Reichstein, who was indeed very kind to reply – and provided the following explanation:
Dear Mr Gosselin,
thanks for your interest in the topic. A simple web search however reveals that you are not “just a private reader with an interest” – rather you seem to have established a blog “NoTricksZone”, or is it someone else with the same name.
In any a as matter of fact let me just state that indeed the SZ published the article – probably accidentally – before the embargo for such publication lifted (the embargo will lift at midnight tonight). Hence the article was removed temporarily. That is all.
Well, I am just a private citizen doing this blog for fun as a hobby. I’m not funded by anyone except myself. In any case, could be interesting to see if anything has been sanitised. We’ll see in 75 minutes.
UPDATE 2: Embargo has been lifted, the story has been reposted. As far as I can tell, it does not deviate from anything I’ve written. – P Gosselin