Magazine article Geographical

Tree Planting Not a Carbon Cure-All

Magazine article Geographical

Tree Planting Not a Carbon Cure-All

Article excerpt

Attempts to mitigate global climate change by planting trees may be doing more harm than good, according to a recent study.

Ecologists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Carnegie Institution and Universite Montpellier II found that while trees absorb carbon dioxide and release moisture into the atmosphere that aids cloud formation--both of which help to keep the planet cool--the heat they absorb can cancel out any benefits. The effect is particularly strong at higher latitudes, where planting trees in areas of tundra would stop heat being reflected by the snow and result in a net increase in temperature due to heat being absorbed by the forest's dark canopy. Indeed, outside a thin band around the equator, forests trap as much or more heat than they help mitigate by reducing C[O.sub.2].

"North of 20 degrees [latitude], forests had a direct warming influence that more or less counterbalanced the cooling effect of carbon removal from the atmosphere," said the study's lead author, Govindasamy Bala of the LLNL.

Oceans storing climate catastrophe

Heat being stored in the North Atlantic Ocean could eventually be released into the atmosphere, resulting in a dramatic rise in temperature, according to the results of a seven-year survey published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Oceanographers from Southampton and Plymouth universities have discovered that to a depth of 1,500 metres, the average temperature of sea water between Western Europe and the eastern USA has increased by 0. …

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