International research on carbon, deadwood and climate change


Releases carbon: dead wood, here in the resin.
Image: ZB

A researcher laid out pieces of wood in 55 places around the world. They wanted to know how the climate influences degradation, how much carbon is released by dead wood – and what role insects play in this.

JEvery year, 10.9 gigatons of carbon are released from dead wood worldwide. Some of it gets into the atmosphere. The amount from dead wood corresponds to around 115 percent of the emissions from fossil fuels. This was determined by an international research team in which scientists from the University of Frankfurt were also involved.

The ecologists laid wood from more than 140 tree species at 55 locations in forests on six continents to determine how the climate influences the degradation. In addition, it was calculated for the first time what role insects play in the decomposition. Their share in wood extraction is almost a third, although this is mainly limited to the tropics.

With a share of 93 percent, tropical forests are also of paramount importance in the overall balance of wood decomposition. The data allow the effects of climate change and insect mortality on the carbon cycle to be simulated more precisely.

Link to the study

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