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Forests do more than just cutting carbon emission; new study proves

New research has discovered that forests do more than just cut carbon emissions from the atmosphere; they also play a pivotal role in keeping the planet cool.

30th March 2017

According to the authors of an international study published in the widely acclaimed science journal ‘Nature Climate Change’, trees affect the climate by swaying the exchange of water and energy between the Earth’s atmosphere and surface.

Study’s co-author and assistant professor of environment modeling and spatial analysis at The Ohio State University, Kaiguang Zhao said, "Forests play a more important role in cooling the surface in almost all regions of the Earth than was previously thought. This really affirms the value of forest conservation and protection policies in the fight against climate change."

Scientists up until recently had been trying to understand the relationship between an ecosystem’s influence on climate locally. Thus, the researchers created a simulation by combining locally rummaged meteorological data with data from satellites and other Earth observation systems.

To their surprise, they discovered significantly differing exchange rates between the heat at the surface in forested regions and with those areas where farming and grazing fields permeate the landscape. This helped them to learn the differences between surface temperature changes from one kind of vegetation to another and the mechanisms that drove those changes.

They also learned that forests do a lot to contribute to the annual cooling in clement and tropical regions and in warming of northern high-latitude regions of the world.

What was helpful was the finding that the cooling in the middle- and lower-latitude areas was nearly as sturdy as preceding estimates using only satellite data.

Researchers had thought the actual cooling would be significantly less than those estimates because they take into account only clear-sky days—not those with cloud cover.

Moreover, the scientists found that the dynamics responsible for regulating the temperature at the surface, specifically the transfer of water and heat from the earth to the atmosphere by convection and evapotranspiration hold more value than previously anticipated.

In fact, they appear to be more significant in many cases than factors related to the sun's energy.

The new study's lead author, Ryan Bright of the Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy Research, said that while forests often absorb more solar radiation than grasslands or croplands, they also put more moisture into the air and promote more mixing of the air near the surface than those shorter types of vegetation.

"In a world facing increasing competition for land resources for food and livestock production, sensible forest protection policies will be especially critical in our efforts to mitigate climate change, particularly local warming. Our research could help in the identification of regions where forest protection, re-forestation or policies promoting the creation of new forests should be started or ramped up," Bright concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2017 

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