Here’s another climate change concern: Superheated bugs in the soil, belching carbon


Rising temperatures that are contributing to wildfires and droughts are also changing the world’s soil so that it pumps out more carbon dioxide, a “feedback loop” that could aggravate climate change, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Increased heat is activating microbes in the soil, converting organic matter into carbon dioxide at a heightened rate, much like a compost heap that decomposes quickly when exposed to a lengthy heat wave.

Scientists say this feedback loop has implications for understanding the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In the past, many researchers assumed that increased carbon dioxide would trigger a boost in growth of forests and vegetation that would capture carbon and counteract impacts of more rapid soil decay.