The last time global carbon dioxide levels were around 400ppm was four million years ago. On average, the world was 3℃ warmer, but in high northern latitudes, it was up to 14℃ warmer than today.
Ocean carbon storage is driven by phytoplankton blooms, like the turquoise swirls visible here in the North Sea and waters off Denmark.
Microscopic ocean phytoplankton feed a "biological pump" that carries carbon from the surface to deep waters. Scientists have found that this process stores much more carbon than previously thought.
Plants take carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, but it goes straight back when they die or are harvested. There is an important difference between carbon fluxes and actual carbon sequestration.
Forests are remarkable at drawing carbon from the atmosphere, and they're getting better at it. New research highlights how important it is to protect forests so they can help us fight climate change.
New research suggests that Earth's oxygenation didn't require difficult and complex evolutionary leaps forward.
What’s happening with the trees that stay green?
Many deciduous trees put on a dazzling fall foliage display. But coniferous evergreens hold on to their needles and stay green. A biologist breaks down these different survival strategies.
Fire consumes an area near Jaci Parana, state of Rondonia, Brazil, Aug. 24, 2019.
AP Photo/Eraldo Peres
If the Amazon rainforest functions as our planet's lungs, what do raging wildfires threaten? An atmospheric scientist explains why the fires, though devastating, won't suffocate life on Earth.
Pulses of light followed by extended dark periods might help make indoor agricultural production more sustainable.
Indoor plant factories have high energy costs since LEDs replace the sunlight outdoor plants get for free. Scientists found a way to dial back how much light is needed by breaking it into tiny bursts.
New research shows that chemicals leached from ocean plastic impair the growth and oxygen production of the planet's most abundant photosynthesiser - endangering marine ecosystems and the climate.
How to grow microalgae to perfection.
Pétur Már Gunnarsson
Soybean cultivation for animal feed is destroying rainforests across the world. Microalgae may be the Amazon's closest ally.
Move over Benedict Cumberbatch, there's another oddly shaped pale figure stealing the limelight.
A farmer shows smaller-than-usual soybeans harvested due to drought conditions in Tallapoosa, Georgia.
AP Photo/David Goldman
Many of the crop plants that feed us waste 20 percent of their energy, especially in hot weather. Plant geneticists prove that capturing this energy could boost crop yields by up to 40 percent.
A 3D rendering of an orange carotenoid protein, whose secrets are slowly being unlocked.
When two proteins interact with each other they behave in their own molecular lives.
Some sneaky plants steal food instead of exclusively making their own.
Since plants can't pick up and move to greener pastures if conditions are tough, some have evolved interesting and sneaky strategies to make a living.
Cyanobacteria filled the ancient oceans and used chlorophyll to harvest the sun’s energy.
Did you recently hear news that Earth's oldest pigments were hot pink? That's not quite right. When they were in living bacteria a billion years ago, they were performing photosynthesis – and green.
Understanding how certain proteins deal with light absorption can inspire modern solar technology.
Proteins guard their secrets closely, but once you get them to "sing", there's an enormous amount to learn.
Genetically engineered tobacco plants growing in a greenhouse.
As the climate changes and the population grows, meeting the demand for food will become more difficult as arable land declines. But an international team of scientists has figured out an innovative solution to dramatically bumping up crop yields.
Long’s Peak framed by rock outcrop, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Scientists have long thought most nitrogen in Earth's ecosystems comes from the air, but new research shows it also is released as rocks weather. This could boost plant growth and help sequester carbon – but not fast enough to avert climate change, as some pundits have claimed.
New research finds more CO₂ can actually make most plants smaller in the long-term - but the story for crops isn't so simple.
The leaves of most plants are green because the leaves are full of green chemicals.
Marcella Cheng/The Conversation
This is an article from Curious Kids, a series for children. The Conversation is asking kids to send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. All questions are welcome – serious, weird or wacky! Why…