News / Science & Technology

Arid Areas Greening Because of Higher CO2 Levels

New research links gradual greening of arid areas like Australia’s outback to increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. (Photo by Bruce Doran)
New research links gradual greening of arid areas like Australia’s outback to increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. (Photo by Bruce Doran)

Related Articles

Carbon Storing Qualities of Coastal Wetlands Explored In Australia

Seminar in Sydney brings together governments, research institutions, non-governmental organizations from around the world to discuss ecosystems

Climate Change Threatens Loss of Common Plants, Animals

Study looks at plant, animal losses in a warmer world and predicts dramatic declines by the end of this century

Warmer Seas Fuel Maine Crab Invasion, Clammers Say

European green crabs, encouraged by rising ocean temperatures, eat their way through clam flats, threatening state's third-largest fishery
VOA News
Higher levels of carbon-dioxide has caused some of the Earth’s most arid regions to become more green, according to new research.

Scientists focused on the American southwest, Australia’s outback, the Middle East and parts of Africa, and found that from 1982 to 2010 there was a “fertilization effect” caused by increased carbon-dioxide levels.

Researchers predicted foliage would increase by 5 to 10 percent given the 14 percent increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration during the study period. The satellite data agreed, showing an 11 percent increase in foliage after adjusting the data for precipitation variations, according to a study published by the American Geophysical Union.

The use of satellite imagery was key to the findings.

“Satellites are very good at detecting changes in total leaf cover, and it is in warm, dry environments that the CO2 effect is expected to most influence leaf cover,” said  Randall Donohue of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Canberra, Australia, who led the effort.

Donohue added that leaf cover is a clue because “a leaf can extract more carbon from the air during photosynthesis, or lose less water to the air during photosynthesis, or both, due to elevated CO2.”

“If elevated CO2 causes the water use of individual leaves to drop, plants will respond by increasing their total numbers of leaves, and this should be measurable from satellite,” he said.

The scientists say they were able to isolate the effects of CO2 from other factors like precipitation, air temperature, the amount of light and land-use changes.

This was done by first averaging out the greenness levels of each location over 3-year periods to account for changes in soil wetness, for example. They then predicted the maximum amount of foliage that could be attained with the given precipitation along with other climatic variations to see the long-term greening effect of CO2.

The research also said that the fertilization effect could lead to different types of vegetation dominating the dry regions.

“Trees are re-invading grass lands, and this could quite possibly be related to the CO2 effect,” Donohue said. “Long lived woody plants are deep rooted and are likely to benefit more than grasses from an increase in CO2.”

While the researchers say the effects of fertilization as a result of higher CO2 levels need more study, it will likely lead to “significant environmental changes,” even if nothing else in the climate changes said Donohue.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mike
June 27, 2013 6:52 AM
CSIRO is absolutely not "industry supported", it is a government funded independent body.

by: Babu G. Ranganathan
June 03, 2013 10:39 AM
THE WHOLE EARTH AT ONE TIME HAD A UNIFORM TEMPERATURE AND CLIMATE. The Bible in Genesis 1:6 teaches that there was water above the sky. This condition doesn’t exist today because that water fell upon the earth during the great Noahic flood. The water above the sky would have had a greenhouse effect so that the temperature around the globe would have been uniform and tropical, even at the North and South poles.

Please read my popular Internet article, ARE FOSSILS REALLY MILLIONS OF YEARS OLD? Evolutionary dating methods are not infallible and far from accurate. Check out some of my Internet articles and sites: NATURAL LIMITS OF EVOLUTION, WAR AMONG EVOLUTIONISTS (2nd Edition), NO HALF-EVOLVED DINOSAURS, DOES GOD PARTICLE EXPLAIN UNIVERSE'S ORIGIN? THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION and Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS
*I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and universities. I've been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis "Who's Who in The East" for my writings on religion and science.

by: Phillip Noe from: Oregon
June 03, 2013 10:29 AM
Research who produced the study. CSIRO is an industry supported institution. Their mission is to research "... ways to benefit the Australian community and the economic and social performance of a number of industry sectors through research and development." So no, they do NOT research the costs of climate change. Those costs far outweigh any "greening" of arid areas. Consider the global decrease in fresh water supplies, raising sea levels, ocean acidification, etc. We need to change the ways we generate and use energy or we will suffer the consequences. It's too late to prevent ALL the effects but we can mitigate them. It's moral, the only rational thing to do.

by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Daikanyama, TKO
May 31, 2013 7:56 PM
Does this research mean even if CO2 level increased there is no need to worry becuase it will lead aird area more greener by fertilization effect?
That sounds good. Let's produce more CO2 to solve food cricis.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs