Monday, July 8, 2013

Deserts are ''Greening'' From the Rising in CO2 !

Go Tell It On The Mountain.....or better yet stick this posting up Al Gore's and James Hansen', nose! Scientists can now assert that increased levels of carbon dioxide have helped boost green foliage across the world's arid regions over the past 30 years through the process called ''CO2 Fertilisation'', according to Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization's (CSIRO) latest findings.

It was already seen from satellite observations over the past 20 years that the Earth was getting greener in general. Now, in findings also based on satellite observations, the CSIRO, in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU), found that this CO2 fertilisation correlated with an 11 % increase in foliage cover from 1982-2011 across parts of the world's arid areas. (see above) The areas studied were in Australia, North America, the Middle East and Africa, according to CSIRO research scientist, Dr Randall Donohue.

Donohue explained, ''In Australia, our native vegetation is superbly adapted to surviving in the arid environments and it consequently uses water very efficiently. Australia vegetation seems quite sensitive to CO2 fertilisation.''  The fertilisation effect occurs where elevated CO2 enables a leaf during photosynthesis, the process by which green plants convert sunlight into sugar, to extract more carbon from the air or lose less water to the air, or both. ''This, along with the vast extents of arid landscapes, means Australia featured prominently in our results.'' he added.

While a CO2 effect on foliage response has long been speculated and recently been seen in a generally overview, the foliage response in the arid regions was difficult to demonstrate. Dr Donohue further explained, ''Our work was able to tease-out the CO2 fertilisation effect by using mathematical modelling together with satellite data adjusted to take out the observed effects of other influences such as precipitation, air temperature, the amount of light and land-use changes.''

If elevated CO2 causes the water use in individual leaves to drop, plants in arid environments will respond by increasing their total numbers of leaves. These changes I leaf cover can be detected by satellite, particularly in deserts and savannahs where the cover is less complete than in wet locations, according to the CSIRO researchers. ''On the face of it, elevated CO2 boosting the foliage in country is good news and could assist forestry and agriculture in such areas; however there will be secondary effects that are likely to influence water availability, the carbon cycle, fire regimes and biodiversity, for example,'' Dr Donohue added.

The Way I see It.....ongoing research is required if we are to fully comprehend the potential extent and benefits of such secondary effects.  With the theory of raising CO2 linked to causing Global Warming dying on the trash heap of history we can be thankful that once again Mother Earth gets on with adapting to any and all climatic changes in a positive way. Unfortunately some people in the CSIRO still dogmatically hang on to this idea and have it on part of their organisations website. No doubt the government money (trough) grants are too tempting for them not to continue on as long as they can to deny that there has not been any warming in the last 17 years. All this while CO2 has gone up 100 ppm and is closing in on the "tipping point" of 400ppm where we all going to go extinct. Gore and Hansen be damned! Just enjoy the greening of our planet. More oxygen for all!!

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