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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid