Feeds

Plants will make greenhouse effect flooding worse

Drowned by lazy daisies

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

New data published by the Met Office's Hadley research centre suggests that flooding will be an even bigger problem than anticipated for our warming planet. And it is plants that are to blame.

According to research, published in the journal Nature, plants tend to absorb and so expire less water from the soil when they grow in an atmosphere with high levels of CO2. This means the ground will become saturated, increasing the amount of water running off into rivers, making flooding more likely.

"It's a double-edged sword," said Dr Richard Betts, climate impact scientist at Hadley, and lead author of the study. "It means that increases in drought due to climate change could be less severe as plants lose less water. On the other hand, if the land is saturated more often, you might expect that intense rainfall events are more likely to cause flooding."

Plants matter to climatologists because of their place in the carbon cycle: through tiny pores on their leaves, known as stomata, they pull carbon from the atmosphere, in the form of carbon dioxide, and turn it into leaves and stalks and so on, drawing water in through their roots. Any excess water is expelled through these same pores, but in a CO2 rich atmosphere, the stomata close up slightly, making them less efficient evaporators.

Dr. Bets also notes that this work means it is not possible to draw like-for-like comparisons between CO2 and other greenhouse gases, such as methane, because of the additional direct impact carbon has on plants. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.