Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tropical Forests -- Earth's Air Conditioner

Date:
April 13, 2007
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
Planting and protecting trees -- which trap and absorb carbon dioxide as they grow -- can help to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But a new study suggests that, as a way to fight global warming, the effectiveness of this strategy depends heavily on where these trees are planted. In particular, tropical forests are very efficient at keeping the Earth at a happy, healthy temperature.

Planting and protecting trees--which trap and absorb carbon dioxide as they grow--can help to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But a new study suggests that, as a way to fight global warming, the effectiveness of this strategy depends heavily on where these trees are planted. In particular, tropical forests are very efficient at keeping the Earth at a happy, healthy temperature.

The researchers, including Ken Caldeira of Carnegie's Department of Global Ecology and Govindasamy Bala at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, found that because tropical forests store large amounts of carbon and produce reflective clouds, they are especially good at cooling the planet. In contrast, forests in snowy areas can warm the Earth, because their dark canopy absorbs sunlight that would otherwise be reflected back to space by a bright white covering of snow.

The work simulates the effects of large-scale deforestation, and accounts for the positive and negative climate effects of tree cover at different latitudes. The result, which appears in this week's early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, makes a strong case for protecting and restoring tropical forests.

"Tropical forests are like Earth's air conditioner," Caldeira said. "When it comes to rehabilitating forests to fight global warming, carbon dioxide might be only half of the story; we also have to account for whether they help to reflect sunlight by producing clouds, or help to absorb it by shading snowy tundra."

Forests in colder, sub-polar latitudes evaporate less water and are less effective at producing clouds. As a result, the main climate effect of these forests is to increase the absorption of sunlight, which can overwhelm the cooling effect of carbon storage.

However, Caldeira believes it would be counterproductive to cut down forests in snowy areas, even if it could help to combat global warming. "A primary reason we are trying to slow global warming is to protect nature," he explains. "It just makes no sense to destroy natural ecosystems in the name of saving natural ecosystems."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "Tropical Forests -- Earth's Air Conditioner." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070409181831.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2007, April 13). Tropical Forests -- Earth's Air Conditioner. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070409181831.htm
Carnegie Institution. "Tropical Forests -- Earth's Air Conditioner." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070409181831.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: 12 More Bodies Found on Japan Volcano

Raw: 12 More Bodies Found on Japan Volcano

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A dozen more bodies were found Wednesday as Japanese rescuers resumed efforts to find survivors and retrieve bodies of those trapped by Mount Ontake's eruption. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A Spanish scientist, who spent 12 days trapped about 1300 feet underground in a cave in Peru's remote Amazon region, was rescued on Tuesday. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Media, Industry Groups React To Calif. Plastic Bag Ban

Media, Industry Groups React To Calif. Plastic Bag Ban

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — California is the first state in the country to ban single-use plastic bags in grocery, liquor and convenience stores. 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