Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Decomposing Leaves are a Surprising Source of Greenhouse Gases #Science

The Rockhouse loves, literally, the Great Circle of Life even when some aspects of it are brutal to behold and we won't watch Great Whites jumping out of the water to eat seals when they try to escape even when we understand the Great Circle governs all.  However, some aspects of it are less cool than the Rockhouse realized.

Decomposing leaves are a surprising source of greenhouse gases

Credit: © patpitchaya / Fotolia

They provided a picture of the decomposing leaves and perhaps for the really hard-core city kids who have never seen the ground as more than concrete or asphalt.

Michigan State University scientists have pinpointed a new source of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that's more potent than carbon dioxide. The culprit?

Tiny bits of decomposing leaves in soil.

This new discovery is featured in the current issue of Nature Geoscience, could help refine nitrous oxide emission predictions as well as guide future agriculture and soil management practices.

"Most nitrous oxide is produced within teaspoon-sized volumes of soil, and these so-called hot spots can emit a lot of nitrous oxide quickly," said Sasha Kravchenko, MSU plant, soil and microbial scientist and lead author of the study. "But the reason for occurrence of these hot spots has mystified soil microbiologists since it was discovered several decades ago."

Science Daily:  Decomposing leaves are a surprising source of greenhouse gases

The Rockhouse is comprised of comprised of lifetime green monkeys and and this is something of a letdown since we have regarded the manure pile as an excellent example of the Great Circle of Life since we return that which appears to be organic waste and Mother Gaia converts that to healthful nutrients to feed ones gardens and fields.  This was regarded as a far better solution than dumping everything into landfills but now it appears it's just about the same since landfills blow out methane constantly and must be vented to ensure the methane gets released.

"This study looked at the geometry of pores in soils as a key variable that affects how nitrogen moves through those soils," said Enriqueta Barrera, program director in NSF's earth sciences division. "Knowing this information will lead to new ways of reducing the emission of nitrous oxide from agricultural soils."

More specifically, future research will review which plant leaves contribute to higher N2O emissions. Plants with more nitrogen in their leaves, such as soybeans, will more than likely give off more N2O as their leaves decompose. Researchers also will look at leaf and root characteristics and see how they influence emissions.

- SD

There's a wealth of additional information in the original article should you decide to pursue it but we have presented the intro and the conclusion for your review.  This one came as surprise to the Rockhouse and information is always appreciated even when we may not like it.  Given the low state of knowledge in political circles, whether real or feigned for the masses, there are likely to be a great many surprises for large numbers of people and they may not like all of it either but that takes us back to Great Whites eating seals.  I may not like it and I don't but it's clearly the Great Circle of Life and it serves everyone well to be aware of it.

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