A fascinating new animation by ecologist Marcus Reichstein of the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Jena, Germany shows the Earth “breathing” the carbon it absorbs and releases as the seasons change throughout the year.
In the video, you can see how continents, especially temperate latitudes, such as continental Europe and North America – where seasonal differences are most pronounced – appear to shrink in summer, indicating that vegetation is growing and plants are absorbing carbon dioxide. . On the other hand, when it is winter, the continents appear to swell, indicating that vegetation is dying and carbon is being released.
These two processes are also indicated by coloration, from blue to orange depending on their intensity.
“The carbon cycle tells us a lot”
“Here’s the seasonal average net carbon flux of a ball ecosystem…what I really like, we intuitively see a carbon ‘sink’ when the biosphere absorbs carbon from the atmosphere,” tweeted Reichstein.
Professor Reichstein’s animation, which he posted on Twitter on January 6, is based on satellite observations and hundreds of carbon monitoring stations around the world.
“Imagination is a really fun project,” Reichstein said. Live Science. The carbon cycle and how it changes from month to month tells us a lot.”
In the animation, you can see how the tropics don’t change much throughout the year, while some desert regions, with little vegetation, don’t store or release much carbon.
Thus, the animation shows the flow of carbon through the planet system. Carbon can be released by decomposing organic matter and eroding rocks containing carbon compounds, according to reports. Live Science. Conversely, continues the scientific environment, carbon can be captured by oceans and plants that use carbon in photosynthesis.
Professor Reichstein said the ocean – which stores much more carbon than Earth’s atmosphere and biosphere – was not included in the animation because it doesn’t show strong seasonal patterns.
The importance of plants in absorbing carbon
What is evident in the animation is the importance of plants to absorb huge amounts of carbon in summer in the southern and northern hemispheres, such as the Brazilian Amazon and the forests of Eastern Europe.
Professor Reichstein also said that climate change is altering the growth pattern of plants around the world, although these changes are too small to appear in his animation. However, the message to be learned is clear: Forests are essential to the health of the planet.
Edited by Felipe Espinosa Wang.