Scientists say in study That something between 20% and 25% of gases of the greenhouse effect come from the so-called “tree fart”. The term is used in scientific environments to designate gases emitted by dead trees and plants in swampy and "swamp" regions.

The study, published on the Biogeochemistry website, points out that this does not come from any tree, or even any region. Specifically, it refers to trees in coastal regions that died of poisoning from the advance of salt water, which made a particular region not only swampy, but highly salinized, transforming them into “ghost forests”.


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Advancing seawater over coastal trees causes them to die from salt poisoning, releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Image: Scott Biales DitchTheMap / Shutterstock

Such trees become skeletal and wither, releasing a higher than usual amount of carbon dioxide - a gas that contributes to the worsening of the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere and, consequently, makes the “tree fart” a tool for advancing the global warming.

The study also points out that the situation may worsen. Although this volume is easily ignored compared to other sources of gas - car engines, use of fossil fuels, emissions resulting from the agricultural market, for example -, the researchers remember that the sea has not stopped advancing. Year after year, salt water closes in on forests, making them salinized and killing local trees by salt poisoning, resulting in more gases released by them at their time of death.

According to Melinda Martinez, research leader and graduate student at the University of South Carolina, dry corpses of pine and cypress trees were evaluated in five “ghost forests” on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula in the US state: “Even though these dead trees are still standing, they don't emit as much [gas] as those rooted, they still emit something ”, she said. “Even the smallest 'punzinho' counts”.

The importance of this monitoring comes from the fact that ghost forests are increasing in size along the North American coast, with extensive points identified between the states of Louisiana and Maryland - an approximate distance of two thousand kilometers.

Furthermore, the advance of the sea is not the only risk, since structures for channeling salt water - widely used in agriculture - can contain leaks that distribute it in coastal forests. And this has a negative effect on the local flora and fauna: shrubs and creeping plants resistant to salt are taking the place of native vegetation, endangering some species of birds, such as the woodpecker; and even carnivorous animals, like some types of wolves.

"It is a difficult question to answer because corpses [of trees] can become habitats for other animals," said Martinez. "We hope to have a better idea of ​​how greenhouse gases change as trees die and also to get better estimates of emissions from live trees."

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