Research highlight

Balancing European emissions

Nature Geoscience

November 23, 2009

Emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from feedstock and agriculture negate the uptake of carbon dioxide by forests and grasslands in Europe, according to a study published online this week in Nature Geoscience.

Detlef Schulze and colleagues compiled estimates of European carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide fluxes between 2000 and 2005, and developed a greenhouse-gas balance for Europe. Forests and grasslands seem to function as a carbon dioxide sink. However, agricultural methane and nitrous oxide emissions fully compensate for this sink, resulting in a near neutral greenhouse-gas balance across the continent.

The researchers warn that the trend towards more intensive agriculture and logging is likely to make Europe a significant source of greenhouse gases in the future.

doi: 10.1038/ngeo686

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