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Christmas trees absorb super greenhouse gas methane

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

The discovery that some trees are absorbing methane comes from Elin Sundqvist and colleagues at Lund University and Stockholm University in Sweden.

They did forest and laboratory measurements and analysed gases being exchanged by tree branches of pine, spruce and birch trees under a variety of conditions, Discovery reported.

"In contrast to earlier studies of CH4 (methane) exchange by plants, we find a net consumption by all plants studied both in situ and in the laboratory," researchers concluded.

The discovery could offer a new explanation to an observed levelling off of methane concentrations in Earth's atmosphere, the researchers said.

Earlier work they cited suggested that the methane levels were slowing as a result of less fossil fuel burning while another study suggested that maybe there were fewer microbes making methane in the Northern hemisphere.

"Our offer a third explanation: that an increasing amount of CH4 has been taken up by vegetation during the last decades as a consequence of increased greenness," the researchers said.

In other words, the observed increases in vegetation (greening) could mean trees are working harder at absorbing methane.

The study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


First Published: Tue, December 25 2012. 16:05 IST