A new study reports that the process of mountain erosion can be a source of new carbon dioxide gas, as it can release CO2 back into the atmosphere far faster than it is being absorbed into the newly exposed rock.
The study states that the source of the extra CO2 is, however, not entirely geological, as it is the byproduct of tiny microbes in mountain soils that eat ancient sources of organic carbon that are trapped in the rock.
The study was conducted by a group of researchers from Harvard University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the United States. It was published in the journal Science.
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Study: Key Highlights
• According to the researchers, as the microbes metabolise minerals trapped in the rock, they discharge carbon dioxide.
• The researchers came to the conclusion after studying one of the most erosion-prone mountain chains in the world - the central range of Taiwan.
• The researchers examined samples of soil, bedrock and river sediments from the central range, looking for signs of organic carbon in the rock.
• In their discovery, the team found that at the very bottom of the soil profile lay unweathered rocks.
• They also noticed an increase in lipids that are known to come from bacteria.
According to lead researcher Jordon Hemingway, the study findings go against the long-standing hypothesis that more mountains mean more erosion and weathering, which means an added reduction of CO2.
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