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Common earthworms speed up global warming

11.02.2013 | Source:


Common earthworms speed up global warming. 49352.jpeg

Human beings are not the only creatures on Earth who cause the climate of the planet to change. Ordinary earthworms also make a significant contribution to global warming. Scientists believe that in the next few decades, the population of earthworms will experience a real boom. 

The soil produces about 20 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide and two-thirds of nitrous oxide. Worms act as architects of this ecosystem. They make the structure soil more porous and interact with microbes that produce carbon dioxide. The presence of invertebrates in the soil is directly related to the amount of carbon dioxide that the soil releases in the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide produces the bacteria that live in the intestines of worms. The concentration of nitrous oxide is three times higher in the places inhabited by earthworms.  

A while back, scientists faced the following problem. On the one hand, worms contribute to the growth of emissions in the atmosphere from the soil. On the other hand, then help "recycle" carbon dioxide, hiding it under the ground. This contradiction became known as the "dilemma of earthworms."

In a new study, an international team of scientists from the Netherlands, the U.S. and Colombia analyzed the results of 237 separate experiments that studied the role of earthworms in greenhouse gas emissions, says the Guardian. The researchers carried out experiments on the emissions of all types of gas and found that the worms increase the global-warming potential of soil by 16 percent.

The influence of earthworms on global climate will perhaps be even more significant in the future, although it may not seem so considerable in global scale. Despite best efforts of invertebrates, humans produce most of carbon dioxide emissions.


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