A new study conducted by a team of researchers has shown that the rate at which lakes absorb carbon from the atmosphere tripled in less than a century as pollution rose at a fast pace.
The study has inspired the need to learn more about some of the gaps that can be seen in the global carbon budget. In a best-case scenario, the carbon released due to human activities should be balanced by a similar amount that is absorbed by the environment, especially trees, lakes, and oceans.
However, in some cases, the numbers appear to be odd, as high amounts of carbon seem to vanish into thin air. Previous research has inferred that lakes can absorb carbon, but the exact mechanisms and quantities have remained a mystery for a long while. Many studies were focused on the way in which carbon can be transferred from soil to water but ignored other details.
Lakes absorb more carbon than expected
The carbon absorbed by lakes is converted into organic matter, which is similar to a brownish sludge. In time this matter accumulates and sinks to the bottom. While oceans and estuaries share the same ability to bury carbon, the rates are considerably lower.
Sediment samples have been collected from 516 sites and analyzed during the study. These samples have been collected from several countries across the world, and several aspects were also taken into account, including the local biomes.
With the help of a method called radiometric dating, the scientists managed to calculate the age of the samples. This method is quite useful since the accuracy rating is quite high while also showcasing interesting facts about the distribution of the sediments.
The results were quite interesting as the team learned that the absorption rate increased dramatically in the last one hundred years across all biomes. A paper has been published in a scientific journal.