Backyards May Play Role in Climate Change

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Researchers Ellen Schmitt and Jen Jenkins

Researchers Ellen Schmitt, left, with the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and Jen Jenkins, from the University of Vermont, are measuring how much carbon dioxide backyard grass takes from the air as it grows. Richard Harris, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Richard Harris, NPR
Dogs are presenting a challenge to Schmitt and Jenkins' work.

Dogs are presenting a challenge to Schmitt's and Jenkins' work. Dog waste fertilizes grass, making it grow faster. If the researchers only study yards with pets, their results might not accurately reflect what's happening in these ecosystems. Richard Harris, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Richard Harris, NPR

Each year, American tailpipes and smokestacks spew more than 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. About half of that stays in the air, where it contributes to global warming. The rest is soaked up by oceans, plants and soil. Scientists studying neighborhoods in Baltimore are now trying to figure out whether backyards are also helping absorb some of this gas, and by so doing, slowing the pace of climate change.



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