NMSU Team Researches Desert Carbon Storage

Las Cruces – A New Mexico State University assistant professor and student researchers are trying to better understand the patterns of carbon dioxide storage in desert soils and plants.

Assistant professor Heather Throop says the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year by soils is 10 times greater than the input from fossil fuels. She says even tiny imbalances in the uptake and release of carbon dioxide from natural systems can affect the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Throop says her group wants to understand how deserts fit into global carbon cycling.

A recent $859,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will allow Throop's team to expand its work. The team will be able to use new analytical techniques to trace sources and residence time of carbon in desert soils.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.