Plants can change greenhouse gas emissions after warming

Different moorland plants, particularly heather and cotton grass, can strongly influence climate warming effects on greenhouse gas emissions, researchers have discovered.

The study found that the make-up of the plant community could play a key role in controlling greenhouse gas emissions from these carbon rich ecosystems, as not all vegetation types respond in the same way to warming.

Temperatures were increased by around 1°C using open-topped, passive warming chambers, specially built on site, which mimicked the predicted effects of global warming.

The researchers found that when heather was present, warming increased the amount of CO2 taken up from the atmosphere, making the ecosystem a greater sink for this greenhouse gas. However, when cotton grass was present, the CO2 sink strength of system decreased with warming, and the amount of methane released increased.

Read more at University of Manchester