Contribution of semi-arid ecosystems to interannual variability of the global carbon cycle, Nature, 21 May 2014
In 2010-2011, exceptional rainfall lashed Australia creating a flood disaster zone the size of France, Germany and Italy combined. The additional vegetation resulting from the rainfall turned Australia into a giant carbon sink soaking up 4 billion tons of carbon in 2011 – the equivalent of more than 40% of emissions from burning fossil fuels that year - according to researchers for the Global Carbon Project in Nature.
Around one quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are absorbed by plants and other land processes - the land sink. While tropical rainforests are usually portrayed as the poster child for the land carbon sink, some uncertainty remains over the locations and size of all sinks. Yesterday, scientists working on IGBP's Global Carbon Project published a paper in the journal Nature that estimates how Australia's semi-arid regions greened as a result of torrential rainfall leading to Australia becoming a significant carbon sink.
Researchers Ben Poulter and Pep Canadell discuss their findings on The Conversation website, Record rains made Australia a giant green global carbon sink.
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