Reforestation is one of the simplest and most attractive natural climate solutions, but the effect of trees on atmospheric temperature is more complex than it seems. One question scientists are asking is whether reforesting places at mid-latitudes such as North America or Europe could actually warm the planet. Forests absorb large amounts of solar radiation as a result of reduced albedo It is a measure of a surface’s ability to reflect sunlight.
In the tropics, reduced albedo corresponds to increased uptake of carbon dioxide through dense vegetation throughout the year. But in temperate climates, the concern is that the heat entrapped by the sun could counteract any cooling effects that forests could provide by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But a new study by Princeton University researchers finds that these concerns They may be missing a crucial ingredient: Zipper.
They report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that denser cloud formations associated with forest areas mean that reforestation is likely to be more effective. To cool the Earth’s atmosphere than previously thought. Corresponding author said Amilker Purborato, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton University and the High Meadows Environment Institute (HMEI).
Planting trees in large areas is beneficial and should be done for climatic purposes
“We show that if we consider that clouds tend to form more frequently over forest areas, planting trees in large areas is beneficial and should be done for climatic purposes.” As anyone who feels a cloud passing over the sun on a hot day knows, diurnal clouds have a cooling, albeit fleeting, effect on Earth. In addition to directly blocking sunlight, Clouds have a high albedo, similar to ice and snow. However, the study of clouds is known to be difficult to study and has been largely excluded from many studies investigating the efficacy of mitigating natural climate change, including reforestation, Purburato said.
To consider reforestation in the context of cloud cover, Porporato worked with lead author Sara Cerasoli, a Princeton graduate student in civil and environmental engineering, and Jun Ying, assistant professor at Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, who was previously a postdoctoral fellow in the Burprato Research Group. His work has been supported by the HMEI-based Carbon Mitigation Initiative.
Models will reduce the drag effect
Purburato and Yen previously reported that climate models underestimate the cooling effect of the daily cloud cycle. They also reported last year that climate change could lead to an increase in daily cloud cover in arid regions such as the southwestern United States It is currently ideal for solar energy production. For the most recent study, Cerasoli, Porporato and Yin investigated the influence of vegetation cover on cloud formation in mid-latitudes by combining satellite cloud cover data from 2001 to 2010 with models related to the interaction between plants and the atmosphere.
The researchers modeled interactions between different types of vegetation and the atmospheric boundary layer, which is the lowest layer of the atmosphere and interacts directly with the Earth’s surface.To determine whether cloud formation is affected differently by type of vegetation. They focused on regions in the latitudinal range of 30 to 45 degrees, roughly from the subtropics to the semi-arid regions such as the North Midwest of the United States.
They considered the effects of both reforestation (Restore lost tree cover) and afforestation, which includes planting forests in previously treeless areas, although this may have other environmental costs. The team found that for mid-latitudes, the cooling effect of clouds, in addition to sequestering carbon, outweighs the solar radiation absorbed by forest areas.
The results can help establish policies for allocating land for reforestation and agriculture
Models showed that clouds form more often over forest areas than over grasslands and other areas with little vegetation, and that this enhanced cloud formation had a cooling effect on Earth’s atmosphere. Researchers noted from satellite data that Clouds also tend to form in the early afternoon over forested areas, which results in a longer duration of cloud cover and a longer time for clouds to reflect solar radiation away from the Earth.
The results can help establish policies for allocating land for reforestation and agriculture; Wetter mid-latitudes such as eastern United States or southeastern China are suitable for reforestation and afforestation, but It is also attractive for cultivation. The study authors report that one approach is to combine mid-latitude reforestation with distribution of drought-tolerant crops in areas less suitable for reforestation.
However, the authors urged caution when making the leap from science to policy. “We can’t just think about climate changeBut we must also take into account other factors, such as biodiversity and the fact that land is also essential for food production.”
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