This May 3, 2018 photo provided by Benjamin Bond-Lamberty shows technician Stephanie Pennington measuring the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air from the soil at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center near Edgewater, Md. (Benjamin Bond-Lamberty via AP)

Warmer soil releasing more carbon, worsening climate change

August 01, 2018 - 12:01 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study finds that even the dirt on the ground is making climate change worse.

Plants capture massive amounts of carbon, pumping it into the soil where usually it stays for hundreds or thousands of years.

Lead researcher Ben Bond-Lamberty of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory says data from across the globe shows that as temperatures have warmed, microbes in the soil are becoming more active. And those turbo-charged microbes are releasing more heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the air.

Scientists call it a vicious cycle of warming. Burning of coal, oil and natural gas heats the air and soil, which worsens warming.

The study is in Wednesday's journal Nature.

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