Wrong Types of Tree could worsen Global Warming: Research

Wrong Types of Tree could worsen Global Warming: Research

Not all trees can be effective in fighting global warming, according to a freshly published study in journal Science. Some tree varieties could even lead to global warming as noticed by the research team for certain regions in Europe. Dark green conifers in many regions across Europe have actually stoked global warming, according to the new research paper. While planting more trees will certainly help in dealing with climate change and to save the environment from pollution, planting the right varieties is also important, the research team noted.

Since 1750, the region under forests has expanded by 10 percent in Europe. The summer temperature in Europe has increased by 0.12 degree Celsius. The research team at Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement in France led the current study. The team noted, “Two and a half centuries of forest management in Europe have not cooled the climate.”

In many countries across Europe, conifers like pines and spruces have increased in number. These trees trap more of solar heat due to their dark color, the study team noted. Light-colored, broad-leafed tree varieties have not been able to catch up with the growth witnessed by dark colored conifer varieties. Trees like oak or birch reflect more of sunlight and can help in our flight against global warming.

A BBC report said, “The greater use of fossil fuels, particularly coal, slowed the timber rush, and from 1850 to the present day, Europe's forests grew by some 386,000 sq km and now cover 10% more land than before the industrial revolution. Choosing conifers over broadleaved varieties also had significant impacts on the albedo - the amount of solar radiation reflected back into space.”

There could be more reasons for change in temperature.

Many countries across the world have planned to plant more trees to deal with climate change. China has setup a plant to build ‘great green wall’ with tree plantation. The program will cover 400 million hectares of land with trees once it is completed. The research could be helpful in selecting the trees that would offer the maximum benefit in dealing with global warming.

Dr Kim Naudts at the Laboratory of Climate Science and Environment in Gif-sur-Yvette, France led the study. Dr. Naudts added, “Even well managed forests today store less carbon than their natural counterparts in 1750. Our results indicate that in large parts of Europe, a tree planting programme would offset the emissions but it would not cool the planet, especially not if the afforestation is done with conifers.”

The research paper added, “Two and a half centuries of forest management in Europe have not cooled the climate. The political imperative to mitigate climate change through afforestation and forest management therefore risks failure, unless it is recognized that not all forestry contributes to climate change mitigation.”

The researchers calculated that the increase in temperature caused by the trees equates to 6 percent of the global warming attributed to the burning of fossil fuels. They warned that similar effects were likely in regions where the same type of afforestation has occurred, such as China, the United States, and Russia.

Seems like, we have a lot to learn in dealing with global warming. With the recent change in weather patterns in many regions across the world, the focus has once again come to dealing with the change.


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