Are deserts carbon sinks?

Can arid regions – specifically deserts – act as carbon sinks?  This study, led by Professor David Evans of Washington State University and published in the current edition of Nature Climate Change, offers this conclusion:  “Results provide direct evidence that CO2 fertilization substantially increases ecosystem C storage and that arid ecosystems are significant, previously unrecognized, sinks for atmospheric CO2 that must be accounted for in efforts to constrain terrestrial and global C cycles.”desert

Good news in terms of potential progress on reducing CO2 in the atmosphere and global warming.  But Christopher Field, who directs the department of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University, runs a project where similar experiments are conducted on grasslands, and is the lead author of the new IPCC report, puts it into perspective:   “It is worth noting that, although the sink in this experiment is significant, it is … about a hundredfold less than typical sinks in young forested ecosystems not exposed to elevated carbon dioxide, so the bottom line is that deserts will not save us from climate change.”