50% of the phosphorus that is emitted into the atmosphere comes from human activity

50% of the phosphorus that is emitted into the atmosphere comes from human activity

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The research, published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Geoscience, reveals that the total amount of phosphorus emitted into the atmosphere has increased by 30% in the last fifty years as a result of doubling the emissions produced by humans.

Is essential

According to Josep Peñuelas, a professor at the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) who investigates at Creaf, phosphorus is an essential nutrient for life and also plays a fundamental role in agriculture and world food security. This element is found in mineral reservoirs and in living things, but it also circulates in the atmosphere.

Before the industrial era, it was emitted into the atmosphere naturally, by volcanic explosions, the emission of biogenic aerosols, the transport of continental dust, sea salt and forest fires. Now, the article reveals the impact that human activity has had and still has on the phosphorus cycle in the atmosphere.

Nutrient for plants

According to scientists, phosphorus is a limiting nutrient for plant growth. If there is a lot of phosphorus, the soil is fertile, the plants grow, fix more CO2 from the atmosphere and reduce the greenhouse effect caused by this gas, Peñuelas has indicated.

The results of the study show that the phosphorus cycle is strongly disturbed, more than previously thought, which opens the possibility that there are many more ecosystems that are being fertilized thanks to the atmospheric phosphorus that is deposited in the sea and especially in the soil, especially tropical and subtropical forests of Asia and Africa, according to the expert.

But the growth of forests could be affected because in Europe and North America the rate of combustion of coal and biomass has slowed in recent years, which has improved air quality, but emission rates of phosphorus have decreased.

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