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Eroding mountains could release, not trap, greenhouse gases

Paul Voosen



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The hills are hiding a carbon cache. For decades, scientists believed that the erosion of mountains caused carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere to drop, as silicate rocks newly exposed to rainwater would “weather,” taking up carbon in carbonate minerals that would sluice down rivers and be sequestered on the sea floor.
But a new line of research, published this week in Science, is complicating that picture. A team of scientists has found that, thanks to opportunistic microbes, some mountain ranges may be sources, not sinks, of carbon. The discovery won’t mean much for climate change: The process occurs over millions of years, and the amounts involved are small compared with human-driven emissions. But it is a new type of feedback mechanism for Earth, one that could have helped the planet maintain its carbon thermostat prior to human interference. [...]


Science (12 April 2018), https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aat8686 
Key: INRMM:14568403

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