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The Arctic is greening, but not enough to help climate change, study finds

Ice floes float in Baffin Bay between Canada and Greenland above the Arctic circle on July 10, 2008. (Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS) TORONTO — While the Arctic is growing greener with climate change, scientists warn that it is not greening fast enough to absorb very much carbon dioxide.

According to new research from scientists at Boston University and University of California Irvine (UCI), there was hope that as more plants start to grow in the Arctic with the climate warming, those plants would be able to help photosynthesize the atmospheric carbon dioxide that helped them grow in the first place.

However, scientists now say the greening is not nearly enough to curb global warming on the continent.

The study, published Thursday in Nature Climate Change , suggests that new green biomass in the Arctic is not as large a “carbon sink” as previously thought.

Jon Wang, an Earth system scientist at UCI who the led the study alongside Boston University professor Mark Friedl, said the data suggests that humans may not be able to rely on greening to save the planet from global warming.

“A big question is: What’ll happen to the carbon that’s currently stored in these forests as above-ground biomass […]

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