The increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has not only bad effects for the environment. A new study based on satellite data shows that deserts seem to get back to life, as a process known as “green foliage” starts to happen, and has been observed since the early 80’s.
The study has been led by Randall Donohue and an international team of scientists, and focused on the southwestern corner of North America, Australia’s outback, the Middle East and some parts of Africa.
After developing mathematical models that predicted the quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, Donohue and his team studied satellite imagery and excluded the effect of precipitation, air temperature, light, land-use changes on greening. The result predicted an increase in foliage by 5 to 10 percent following an increase in carbon dioxide of about 14 percent.
The prediction matched the truth revealed by the satellite data: an 11 percent increase in foliage due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.
“Up until this point, they’ve linked the greening to fairly obvious climatic variables, such as a rise in temperature where it is normally cold or a rise in rainfall where it is normally dry. Lots of those papers speculated about the CO2 effect, but it has been very difficult to prove.”
Not only the CO2 fertilization process brings green to deserts, but it also allows for trees to re-invade grass lands, which could have an even larger benefit for the environment.
So CO2 fertilization is the way planet Earth responds to our destructive habits – by sending in more plants to help with carbon sequestration. Isn’t nature wonderful?