A NASA study has shown that the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has resulted in a greener planet. Climate change and higher temperature in many regions across the world is leading to unexpected changes in weather patterns and green cover.
Worldwide, there are areas which were once icebound, barren or sandy and now have got green foliage covering. According to the study team findings, between 1982 and 2009, carbon emissions have given a boost to greening in an area nearly two times the size of the continental United States.
The researchers said that though lush forests and green fields could sound good, the transformation in the landscape could later have unexpected consequences.
In a statement, lead author Zaichun Zhu, a researcher from Peking University in Beijing, said that the radical greening can fundamentally alter the water and carbon cycling in the climate system.
Green leafy flora covers over 32% of the surface of our planet. All the plants use carbon dioxide and sunlight for the growth of sugars, a process known as photosynthesis. Earlier studies have indicated that carbon dioxide pushes the growth of plants by boosting the rate of photosynthesis.
Another research has demonstrated that plants are among the main absorbers of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere. Human activities, including driving cars, burning coal for energy, are responsible for nearly 10 billion tons of emissions of carbon dioxide every year, and plants store 50% of this CO2.
Study co-author Shilong Piao of the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences at Peking University, said, “While our study did not address the connection between greening and carbon storage in plants, other studies have reported an increasing carbon sink on land since the 1980s, which is entirely consistent with the idea of a greening Earth”.
But so far, it isn’t clear that whether the sky-high concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere could explain the greening that was visible in satellite data during the last few years, which was the highest, Earth has seen in 500,000 years.