What does this mean for climate change (global warming)? According to the BBC, “experts believe the new calculation is unlikely to make a difference to global warming predictions.” Long-term predictions for global warming remain intact, as well as the need for long-term emission cuts.
Figuring out how much CO2 ends up in the atmosphere will be imperative for estimating the impacts of the greenhouse gas on temperatures. Modeling that on a global scale has proven to be quite the challenge, though.
Right now, researchers know about half of the CO2 produced ends up in the ocean or is absorbed by plants.
The new study found that between 1901 and 2010 the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed rose from 915 billion tons to 1,057 tons.
“The atmospheric CO2 concentration only started to accelerate rapidly after 1950,” said Dr Lianhong Gu told the BBC.
“So the 17% bias was achieved during a period of about 50 years. If we are going to predict future CO2 concentration increases for hundreds of years, how big would that bias be?”
Should this new study hold up to scrutiny, look for researchers to make some adjustments to their models. Mother nature won’t beat global warming for us, but she might just give us enough room so we can slow the rise in global temperatures.