A one degree rise in tropical temperature leads to around two billion extra tonnes of carbon being released per year into the atmosphere from tropical ecosystems, a new study has found. This is very high as compared with the same tropical warming in the 1960s and 1970s.
Researchers have said that the tropical carbon cycle has become twice as sensitive to temperature variations over the last half century.
Professor Pierre Friedlingstein and Professor Peter Cox, from the University of Exeter, collaborated with an international team of researchers from China, Germany, France and the USA, to produce the new study.
Research published last year by Professors Cox and Friedlingstein showed that these variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide can reveal the sensitivity of tropical ecosystems to future climate change.
Taken together, these studies suggest that the sensitivity of tropical ecosystems to climate change has increased substantially in recent decades.
Professor Cox, from the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences said "The year-to-year variation in carbon dioxide concentration is a very useful way to monitor how tropical ecosystems are responding to climate.
The new study has been published in the journal Nature.