Rocky resource comes to light

1st May 2018


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A groundbreaking study has found that 26% of nitrogen in natural ecosystems is sourced from rocks, shedding light on the mysterious gap in gas levels that scientists have grappled with for decades.

Published in the journal Science, the research could greatly improve the accuracy of climate change projections, which rely on understanding the carbon cycle and how plants pull emissions from the atmosphere.

The researchers believe that rock-derived nitrogen may allow forests and grasslands to absorb more fossil fuel CO2 emissions than previously thought, with regions like the Himalayas and Andes estimated to be significant sources.

Kendra McLauchlan, programme director at the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology, which co-funded the research, said the findings would lead to a “rewriting of textbooks”, adding: “A discovery of this magnitude will open up a new era of nitrogen research.”

Image credit: Shutterstock


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