Beijing: Salt-affected soils are estimated to absorb 1.26 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually which may solve the mystery of the "missing carbon sink", Chinese scientists believe.
Scientists usually estimate how much carbon dioxide should be in the atmosphere by calculating on the amount for fossil burnt. But some 1.9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide is unaccounted for each year.
A team of 58 researchers and scientists from China, Germany and Belgium conducted a five-year research project on arid land in the inland of Asia and Europe to account for the "missing carbon sink."
A carbon sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period.
The team was led by the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
It showed that salt-affected soils, known as saline-alkali soils, can soak up carbon inorganically and the carbon can be stored in underground saline aquifers, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the scientists as saying.
They calculated that the aquifers contain a huge active pool of carbon which could reach 1,000 billion tonnes.
The research is significant in addressing climate change as the increase of the pool could mean more room for carbon emissions from industry, the scientists said.