Saline groundwater under vast desert regions absorb a huge amount of carbon dioxide, which is estimated to be the third most active carbon pool after plants and soil, Chinese scientists announced on Tuesday.
Li Yan, researcher with the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the new pool may absorb carbon of 100 billion tonnes at preliminary estimation.
For decades of years, global scientists have been looking for the "missing carbon sink", as some carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuel is absorbed in the atmosphere, some in the ocean, and some simply goes "missing."
However, desert regions have long been regarded as unable to absorb carbon dioxide due to sparse vegetation and depleted soil.
But several years ago, Chinese and the U.S. scientists discovered that carbon dioxide goes in the surface of deserts and calculated that deserts may be a big carbon sink.
After ten years of research, Li's team found carbon dioxide entering deserts' surface is not absorbed in plants or soil but in the deep saline aquifer.
The discovery created new direction for finding the "missing carbon sink," Li said.(Xinhua)