The planet is getting warmer. But, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances titled “Biophysical impacts of Earth greening largely controlled by aerodynamic resistance” the entire land surface would have been much warmer without the cooling effect of increased green cover during the recent decades. This is because of its ability to increase the efficiency of transferring heat and moisture from the ground into the air.
The study used high-quality satellite data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, sensors, and NCAR’s state-of-the-art numerical earth system model.
According to the study, the greening of the lands during the first fifteen years in the 21st century represented an additional heat dissipation from the surface equivalent to five times the total energy produced and used by humans in 2015. This greening-induced cooling effect was 25 times stronger than the warming effect caused by tropical deforestation.
“In the fight against climate change, plants are the lonely-only defenders. Stopping deforestation and ecologically sensible large-scale tree-planting could be one simple, but not sufficient, defense against climate change.” said the lead author Dr. Chi Chen to NASA.
Read the full study at Science Advances.