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Providing Insight
Into Climate Change
CO2 and Plant Growth
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9 Articles

Global Greening by Vegetation Type Over the Last 17 Years

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This study used satellite leaf area index (LAI) data and advanced analytical techniques to quantify changes in the vegetation dynamics over nine main vegetation types, including broadleaf, coniferous and evergreen forests as well as summer and winter crops, and grasslands that may co-exist in a grid pixel (about 1 km2) of satellite data. A trend analysis is performed for each vegetation type over the 1999-2015 period. The results are validated against ground observations at 83 sites. The largest global trend is for coniferous forests at 4.2%/yr followed by summer crops at 3.9%/yr. The global trend for winter crops and grasslands are 2.6%/yr and 2.8%/yr, respectively. In North America, the largest trends are for coniferous forests at 3.9%/yr. The summer and winter crop trends are 3.0%/yr and 2.6%/yr, respectively.

The Positive Impact of Human CO2 Emissions on the Survival of Life on Earth

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Dr. Patrick Moore writes about the positive impact that rising CO2 levels have had on the Earth's biosphere. He wrote "at the height of the most recent major glaciation, CO2 dipped to its lowest level in recorded history at 180 ppm, low enough to stunt plant growth." He describes the history of CO2 levels and the distribution of carbon in the Earth. He wrote "The combustion of fossil fuels for energy to power human civilization has reversed the downward trend in CO2 and promises to bring it back to levels that are likely to foster a considerable increase in the growth rate and biomass of plants, including food crops and trees."

Rise in CO2 has Greened Planet Earth

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A paper published in Nature Climate Change in April 2016 shows a widespread increase of growing-season leaf area over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area, with the CO2 fertilization effect explaining 70% of the observed greening trend. Climate change explains 8% of the greening trend, predominantly in the high latitudes and the Tibetan Plateau. The study used three satellite leaf area index records to determine the greening and used ecosystem models to allocate the greening trends during 1982 - 2009 among four key drivers. The greening is equivalent to 18 million km2, or 12.4% over the 33 years.

Monetary Benefits of Rising CO2 on Global Food Production

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Elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 have been conclusively shown to stimulate plant productivity and growth. The annual total monetary value of this benefit grew from $18.5 billion in 1961 to over $140 billion by 2011, amounting to a total sum of $3.2 trillion over the 50-year period 1961-2011. Projecting the monetary value of this positive externality forward in time reveals it will likely bestow an additional $9.8 trillion on crop production between now and 2050. (Values in constant 2005 $US. Current consumer prices are 1.2 X 2005 prices.)

Elevated Carbon Dioxide Making Arid Regions Greener

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A study of arid regions around the globe finds that a carbon dioxide "fertilization effect" has caused a gradual greening from 1982 to 2010. The satellite imagery data showed an 11 percent increase in foliage after adjusting the data for precipitation, air temperature, the amount of light, and land-use changes during the study period when CO2 concentrations increased by 14 percent. "Satellites are very good at detecting changes in total leaf cover, and it is in warm, dry environments that the CO2 effect is expected to most influence leaf cover."

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