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"Trees in the Tropical Region Have a Cooling Effect on the Planet"
7 May, 2007 12:29 pm
A recent study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences shows that trees in certain regions play contrary roles in regulating the Earth's temperature. Govindsamay Bala, the lead author of the study answers scitizen's questions.
We basically looked at the role of trees in the tropics and the temperate region and the boreal region. We find that the trees in the tropical region have a cooling effect on the planet, and trees in the boreal region have a warming effect. The trees in the temperate region have pretty close to no effect on the climate.
By cutting down the majority of trees, how much would the global temperature
change, and how long would it take to see a notable difference?
These experiments were carried out for about a hundred to a hundred and fifty years. The time scale of the climate system has, what I consider, a long time scale. Itís about 50 to a hundred years to have mesurable effects. The global effect, if we suppose to chop down the trees completely on the planet, was pretty close to zero. The effect of boreal trees is pretty much canceled by the effect of trees in the tropical region.
Does your study indicate that we should rethink the climate change mitigation strategy that consists of re-planting trees?
Definitely more research is needed, particularily in the area of terestrial carbon sequestration.
I think there is misinterpretation of the study. Definitely the terrestrial carbon sequestration strategies have a benefit. Our study shows that the benefits are maximum in the tropical regions.
Interview by Christopher Le Coq
Dr. Govindsamay Bala is a Physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory in California, USA, in the Atmospheric Science Division.
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