Ural Federal University: Greenhouse Gas Concentrations in the Atmosphere’s Surface Layer Are Steadily Increasing

The concentration of greenhouse gases in the surface layer of the atmosphere of the Sverdlovsk region is steadily increasing, the specialists of the Ural-Carbon project reported. Thus, according to the data they collected in the forests near the Kourovka Astronomical Observatory from July to November 2021, the concentration of greenhouse gases ranged between 408 and 425 ppm, which is higher than previously observed values. During the same period in 2019, carbon dioxide concentration values between 401-410 ppm were observed in this region. For methane, these values were 1.85-1.94 ppm in 2021 and 1.83-1.87 ppm in 2019, respectively. The figures were announced by the participants of the Ural-Carbon project at a press conference in TASS.

“Our forests are capable of depositing atmospheric carbon to a large extent. Earlier, specialists from the Forest Engineering University and the Botanical Garden of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences showed by combining phytomass models with forest inventory data that the phytomass of forests in the Sverdlovsk region contains about 631 million tons of organic carbon. The value of annual carbon deposition according to these estimates may be about 40 million tons,” explains Victor Valdayskikh, project manager and director of the Ural Federal University Botanical Garden.

In terms of carbon dioxide, this will be about 146 million tons, which is about 1.5 times the total annual greenhouse gas emissions of the region’s industry.

“But we must understand that the value of “net accumulation” or net depopulation in forests is many times less – in natural communities there are also reverse processes associated with the destruction of organic matter. Therefore, to make any quick and optimistic conclusions, for example, about the carbon neutrality of the Sverdlovsk region, would be very premature – detailed actual data on the balance of greenhouse gases and accounting of all sources of carbon emission and runoff, including – natural. Such an inventory of natural processes is called to be taken by carbon polygons, including Ural-Carbon,” adds Valdayskikh.

The task of scientists is to measure and say whether our forests, fields, marshes, meadows, and tundra can sequester the amount of carbon required for carbon neutrality and whether they can accelerate this process. They conduct research using ground-based equipment, drones, satellite surveillance, and forest inventory data.

“We conduct continuous measurements of carbon-containing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at the test site through the Picarro spectrometer. From this year we will start working on mast pulsation equipment. We carry out so-called ground-based measurements – measuring carbon dioxide emissions from soils and studying the photosynthesis intensity of certain groups of plants at the landfill. Naturally, we are working on the inventory of accumulated carbon in the soil, in mortar mass, and in plants,” says Victor Valdayskikh.

Scientists plan to work out methods of greenhouse gas emission inventory by industry, to implement climate projects on industrial dumps, on overgrown farmlands, on working farmlands. In addition, to grow woody and herbaceous high-yielding plants.

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