Read, Debate: Engage.
Read, Debate: Engage.
map tooltip
Nature

World’s deserts are getting greener

July 17th, 2013
in:Nature
by:Itai Lahat
located in:Western Sahara, Mongolia
tags:carbon emission, green energy

We tend to think of the increasing levels of CO2 as a bad thing. But these increasing levels have also some interesting side effects that surprise even scientists.

A new study conducted by CSIRO, found that increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) have helped boost green foliage across the world's arid regions over the past 30 years through a process called CO2 fertilization.

In findings based on satellite observations, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation - which is Australia's national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world - have collaborated with the Australian National University (ANU),  and found that this CO2 fertilization correlated with an 11 per cent increase in foliage cover from 1982-2010 across parts of the arid areas studied in Australia, North America, the Middle East and Africa. Apparently, the deserts are getting greener.

CO2 fertilization occurs when higher levels of carbon dioxide enable plants use less water in their leaves during photosynthesis. Plants respond by creating more leaves and increasing overall cover in arid areas.

    “On the face of it, elevated CO2 boosting the foliage in dry countries is good news and could assist forestry and agriculture in such areas; however there will be secondary effects that are likely to influence water availability, the carbon cycle, fire regimes and biodiversity, for example,” says CSIRO researcher Dr Randall Donohue.

So it seems that rising CO2 levels can generate positive effects on deserts. On the other hand, this increase in foliage is more flammable, drier and caused by phenomena that threatens the existence of humanity.

However it might demonstrate one important thing - the solution for climate change has been always out there: more plants to absorb the rising levels of carbon.

Article written by:
Itai Lahat
Author
Current Map: Our coverage

Related & recommended articles

Signup for our monthly newsletter
The Best Picks from Our Editors
Send