This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today

Tag archives: Gaia

Could the Earth be breathing?


By James Dacey

Ever since green issues crossed over to the mainstream in the 1980s, James Lovelock’s Gaia metaphor has always felt a little bit pass√©. Now it may be allowed to flourish once again in the 21st century as a bunch of environmental scientists report that the rocky Earth is “breathing”.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced in the soil get trapped in crevices, before being exhaled as temperatures drop, say the researchers at universities in Israel and the US.

During the summer they expect at least 8 hours of “breathing” each day and in winter up to 20 hour’s worth.

Apparently this convection is taking place in cracks right across the earth’s surface but climate modellers have so far failed to spot it.

Historically, gas exchange models consider diffusion alone, but factoring in “geo-respiration” could increase vapour flux by 50 %

Particularly cracked parts of the earth’s face, where this effect is most pronounced, include permafrost zones, agricultural settings and desert playas.

I contacted Maria Dragila, one of the researchers at Oregon State University and she told me:

“Our next step is to encourage the scientific community to consider this mechanism and quantify the effectiveness of this breathing in different environments by direct field

Full details of this research can be found in Geophysical Research Letters.

Posted in General | Tagged | Comments Off on Could the Earth be breathing? | Permalink
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile