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Earthworms Speed Up Global Warming

In a new study, an international team of scientists from the Netherlands, the U.S. and Colombia analyzed the results of 237 separate ex...

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. 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 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. On the one hand, worms contribute to the growth of emissions in the atmosphere from the soil.

Scientists believe that in the next few decades, the population of earthworms will experience a real boom. 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.

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