Forests, soil ''may not keep pace'' with CO2 emissions, according to the latest research.

PARIS : The world is counting too heavily on soil and plants to soak up the planet - ravaging carbon pollution, researchers cautioned Wednesday.

Climate projections mistakenly assume that land and what grows on it are able to absorb the CO2 humanity loads into the atmosphere, they reported in the journal nature.

In reality there's a tradeoff.

''Either soil or plants, but not both, will absorb more CO2 as carbon levels rise,'' lead author Cesar Terrer, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, told AFP.

It is tempting, he said, to hang hopes on supercharged plant growth and massive tree planting campaigns to reduce CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels, agriculture and destroying forests.

But researchers said that when elevated carbon dioxide levels boost forest and grassland growth, the accumulation of CO2 in soil slows down.

''Soils store more carbon worldwide than is contained in all plant biomass,'' said senior author Rob Jackson, a professor at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences.

So far, Earth's terrestrial ecosystems have kept pace with rapidly increasing CO2 emissions, consistently absorbing some 30 percent even as those emissions have more than doubled over the last 50 years.

Oceans have also syphoned off a steady 20 odd percent of CO2 pollution during the same period. [AFP]


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