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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid