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February 13, 2010 – Original Source: The Independent, UK

Finnish researchers called for a revision of climate change estimates Monday after their findings showed emissions from soil would contribute more to climate warming than previously thought.

“A Finnish research group has proved that the present standard measurements underestimate the effect of climate warming on emissions from the soil,” the Finnish Environment Institute said in a statement.

“The error is serious enough to require revisions in climate change estimates,” it said, adding that all climate models used soil emission estimates based on measurements received using an erroneous method.

The institute said that while emissions from soil were known to have a significant influence on climate warming, previous studies took into account short-term measurements which gave “systematically biased estimates on the effects of climate change on the emissions.”

The Finnish scientists’ experiments in boreal forests used radiocarbon measurements and showed that the more abundant, slowly decomposing compounds in soil were more sensitive to rises in temperature, the statement said.

This showed “carbon dioxide emissions from the soil will be up to 50 percent higher than those suggested by the present mainstream method,” if the mean global temperature rose by the previously forecasted five degrees Celsius before the end of the century, and if the carbon flow to soil did not increase.

The institute said a 100 to 200 percent increase of forest biomass was needed to offset the increasing carbon emissions from soil, whereas previous estimates called for a 70 to 80 percent increase.

The research was carried out by the Finnish Environment Institute, the Finnish Forest Research Institute and the Dating Laboratory of the Finnish Museum of Natural History at the University of Helsinki.

The results are published in the February issue of the journal Ecology, the statement said.

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