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.