Afforestation can mitigate climate change locally: Study

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 03, 2013 07:50 hrs

Berlin, Feb 3 (IANS) Planting deciduous trees in tree-deficit areas could bring about cooler and wetter summers and mitigate effects of climate change in temperate zones, says a new research.

Using REMO, the regional climate model of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, researchers tested what would happen to climate change in Europe in 100 years if land currently covered in non-forest vegetation was converted into deciduous forest.

This equates to more than a doubling of forest in Poland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Northern Ukraine, Northern Germany and France. But in already heavily forested countries such as Sweden the increase would amount to less than 10 percent, the journal Carbon Balance and Management reports.

The effect of planting trees depends on the environment of each region, say researchers.

"While we realised that the amount of afforestation included in our model was unrealistic in practice, even a more modest programme of planting trees could theoretically reduce the effect of climate change in Northern Europe," says Borbala Galos, from Max Planck Institute, who led the study.

The large leaf area and low aerodynamic resistance of deciduous trees result into enhanced evaporation-transpiration compared to other vegetation, cooling the surrounding air, and leading to cooler surface temperatures, according to a Max Planck statement.

The model indicates that in the northern part of central Europe and Ukraine afforestation results in 0.3-0.5 degree Celsius decrease in temperature and 10-15 percent more summer rain by 2071-2090.

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