As climate change progresses, plants react to (try to) counteract their effects. Nature, in fact, has been going from the beginning of the industrial revolution to intensifying its activity to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions (COtwo) derived from human activity. This is the conclusion of a new study published this Thursday in the magazine 'Trends in Plant Science', which shows that global indexes of photosynthesis have grown exponentially and in the same proportion as the constant to the increase in COtwo atmospheric.
The analysis has taken into account the evolution of gross primary production (also known as 'terrestrial gross primary productivity' or GPP), an index by which the Total energy generated by the plants during the photosynthesis. This tool has made it possible to evaluate the performance of plants both individually (as is the case of a leaf) and global (as in an ecosystem such as a forest, for example). The conclusion is that, in general terms, the terrestrial biosphere its pace of work is increasing to compensate for air pollution.
"We know that terrestrial plants currently absorb part COtwo from which is released to the atmosphere by emissions related to human activity, "explains Lucas Cernusak, principal investigator of the recently published study." We know that this phenomenon is currently known as the terrestrial carbon sink, Is contributing to slow down the rate at which carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases. What we do not know is how strong this response is and how long can we count on her", adds the expert.
No, it's not good news
This phenomenon, however, is not good news for the environment. In fact, the same researchers responsible for the newly published study clarify that the 'overexertion' of the plants is not enough. Climate change is related to a higher frequency of extreme weather phenomena (such as heat waves, droughts and storms) that in parallel directly threaten the terrestrial vegetation and, therefore, diminish their ability to mitigate the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
It should also be remembered that plant ecosystems stand out among the main ones affected by climate change. A recent study published in the journal 'Nature Communications' recalls that under the increase in temperatures trees tend to grow more quickly but also to die sooner than expected. The time in which plants store carbon dioxide, therefore, is also decreasing. This would imply that the carbon dioxide which is absorbed by trees and plants during photosynthesis, and which is stored in the form of organic matter, could partially return to the atmosphere after the death of the tree.
"All the studies conducted in recent years point to the same idea: vegetation has been key to partially offset the effects of climate change but we can not rely on it alone, more now, when plant ecosystems begin to show symptoms of weakness"he argues Josep Pañuelas, ecologist of the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF). "We know that vegetation absorbs up to a quarter of the emissions of COtwo and the oceans another. But now that both ecosystems are also affected, we can no longer count on their ability to 'purify' the air, "adds Pañuelas, who also remembers that behind these phenomena lies the inevitable waterfall effect, a process that affects the balance of the entire system.
(tagsToTranslate) Climate change (t) Science (t) Pollution