Effects of China’s forests in mitigating CO2 emissions underestimated

▲Aerial photo taken on July 26, 2019 shows a forest park in Qinling Mountains in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. (Xinhua/Liu Xiao)


An international team led by Chinese scientists found that the effects of China’s forests in mitigating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have been seriously underestimated in previous studies.

From 2010 to 2016, China’s terrestrial ecosystems absorbed about 1.11 billion tons of CO2 annually, more than was indicated by previous studies, according to a paper published in the journal of Nature on Wednesday. 

Liu Yi, author of the paper and professor with the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday that China is currently one of the world’s major emitters of CO2, but China’s forest resources have been growing continuously for the past 30 years. 

The research team managed to set up six more CO2 monitoring stations on the ground across China and combined the monitoring from satellites and global remote sensing data for ecosystems to get the result. 

Previously, the CO2 monitoring stations on the ground over China were few and far between, resulting in CO2 flux estimates with large uncertainties, according to Liu.

“While our results still have large uncertainties, it’s clear that China’s forest ecosystem has a huge carbon sequestration effect,” said one of the paper’s authors, Paul Palmer from the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, according to a press release from the research team. 

China aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

In the future, the team will further enhance observation capabilities of satellites to provide scientific and technological support for China’s goal of carbon neutrality, Liu said.

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