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Recently a man out hiking in Nova Scotia captured on video what appears to be the forest floor breathing deeply. In the video the ground rises up like a blanket and the roots beneath the trees heave upward and downward like human lungs. The breathing movements, combined with sound of the wind adds to the illusion of a breathing forest.

While not actually breathing, the ground is in fact moving. The hiker, named Brian Nutall, explains in the story that winds had loosened the roots from the mossy ground and that with each strong gust of wind the tree’s roots were pulled upward, giving the appearance of inhalation.  When the wind subsided, the roots fell flat again, giving the appearance of exhalation.

For an actual depiction of the earth breathing, see this amazing animated video created by NASA. Using satellite instruments, millions of measurements were taken of carbon dioxide (CO2) as it was emitted or “exhaled” by automobiles, factories and other sources and then “inhaled” or absorbed by the earth’s oceans, trees and other vegetation. Scientists are tracking CO2 as part of climate change and using the data to predict what will happen to the earth when it can no longer absorb the current amount of climate-warming CO2 emissions.

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The video shows the planet’s year-long carbon cycle and it’s delicate environmental balance that is now being altered by the massive increase in the amount of man-made generated CO2.

For more information about the development of the satellite named Aqua and the carbon cycle, read here and here.