Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

El Niño Phenomenon Could Help Reforest Semi-arid Regions

Date:
July 23, 2006
Source:
Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona
Summary:
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona scientists took part in an international cooperation project to study the El Niño phenomenon and its effects on vegetation. By observing the relationship between the development of two species (Prosopis pallida and Prosopis chilensis) and the El Niño cycles (which have varying intensity), they have reached the conclusion that the increase in precipitation could be used to recover semi-arid zones through reforestation programmes.

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona scientists took part in an international cooperation project to study the El Niño phenomenon and its effects on vegetation. By observing the relationship between the development of two species (Prosopis pallida and Prosopis chilensis) and the El Niño cycles (which have varying intensity), they have reached the conclusion that the increase in precipitation could be used to recover semi-arid zones through reforestation programmes.

Related Articles


Arid and semi-arid systems around the world have lost a large part of their woody vegetation and biodiversity due to the overuse of wood cutting, cattle grazing, and subsistence agriculture. These systems are used for cattle production, but their productivity are usually very low and erosion of the unprotected soil is often a major problem. This situation is extremely worrying for the international community, not only because of the poor productivity, but also because it is the start of the path towards desertification. Countries such as Peru and Chile have been suffering these effects for many years.

The El Niño phenomenon is the main cause of climate variability on our planet. The frequency of El Niño varies between 3 and 6 years. Its intensity also varies, and therefore so do its effects. On the Latin American Pacific Coast, the effects can be seen in increased rainfall, with varying intensities according to the location. Rainfall in Peru, for example, can increase by up to 25 times, as happened in 1983 and 1998; in Chile, however, the increase in rainfall is much lower, and sometimes non-existent.

The main mission of the international "ELNIÑO" cooperation project was to study how the decrease in herbivories and the increase in water availability due to El Niño could be used to stimulate the regeneration of trees and shrubs in semi-arid ecosystems in Chile and Peru. This is why those participating in the project needed to know the relationship between the climate and the establishment and growth of vegetation. They chose two species that can be found in great number in Latin America and are used frequently by rural communities-the Prosopis pallida in Peru and the Prosopis chilensis in Chile-and took samples using a latitudinal gradient from the north of Peru to the centre of Chile.

The results showed that, despite the distance between the distributions of the two species, both gave similar responses. The growth of the two species is positively correlated with precipitation, but not with temperature. In northern Peru, precipitation and growth of the species occur in three-year cycles and coincide with El Niño. Furthermore, in southern Peru and central Chile, precipitation, growth of the species and El Niño also have the same cycle, but here the cycle lasts more than three years.

On a local level, it has been demonstrated that these species respond positively and significantly to precipitation. This means that when the intensity of El Niño is only moderate, zones protected from herbivores can be recovered through reforestation programmes, and the intensity of the phenomenon can be forecast months earlier.

Global warming could cause an increase in precipitation in many semi-arid zones around the world. El Niño could see the intensity of precipitation and frequency increase, according to these models. This means that although semi-arid zones currently play an almost insignificant role in global carbon balance, the expected increase in vegetation in these zones, due to climatic change, could turn these systems into important consumers of carbon.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) — Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins