Global warming has reached a “point of no return” and we can’t reverse it anymore but can only dampen it, according to a study published in the science journal Nature.

The ominous study says that the full impact of climate change has been underestimated because scientists haven’t taken into account a major source of carbon in the environment – the soil.

During the research, the scientists assembled data from 49 field experiments over the last 20 years in North America, Europe and Asia. They found that majority of the Earth’s terrestrial store of carbon was in soil. As the atmosphere warms up, increased amounts of carbon are emitted in what is a vicious cycle of “positive feedbacks”. The study found that 55 billion tonnes of carbon, not previously accounted for by scientists, will be emitted into the atmosphere by 2050.

Dr Thomas Crowther, the lead scientist of the study, told The Independent that carbon emitted from soil was speeding up global warming. “It’s fair to say we have passed the point of no return on global warming and we can’t reverse the effects, but certainly we can dampen them,” he said. “Climate change may be considerably more rapid than we thought it was.”

Dr Crowther described US president elect Donald Trump’s skeptical stance on climate change as “catastrophic for humanity”.

The report published in Nature says, “…our analysis provides empirical support for the long-held concern that rising temperatures stimulate the loss of soil C to the atmosphere, driving a positive land C–climate feedback that could accelerate planetary warming over the twenty-first century. Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are essential if we are to avoid the most damaging effects of this feedback over the rest of the  century.