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17. Where Is the Missing C02

Karl NiklasKarl J. Niklas, Plant Biology, and a research colleague proposed a mathematical scaling model that can accurately predict size-dependent relationships for small- and intermediate-size plants, from the smallest herbaceous plants to the world’s tallest trees. The model can, therefore, determine the mass of root systems. Root systems provide major storage for carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas implicated in global warming. Due to the combustion of fossil fuels, the gas has been increasing steadily over the past century and a half. Scientists have attempted to account for the rise in global carbon dioxide by calculating the global balance between photosynthesis and processes that return carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. However, this accounting has revealed an imbalance—a missing bank of carbon. The researchers’ new model can make reasonable predictions about how much carbon dioxide is stored underground in root systems. The predictions can be introduced into global climate models to give estimates of various climatological features.

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