Increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) have helped boost green foliage across the world's arid regions over the past 30 years, according to a statement on Australian scientists' research of this process called CO2 fertilization on Wednesday.


Illustrative image. (Source: Internet)

This study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and was funded by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia's national science agency.

According to this statement, in findings based on satellite observations, CSIRO, in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU), found that this CO2 fertilization correlated with an 11 percent increase in foliage cover from 1982 to 2010 across parts of the arid areas studied in Australia, North America, the Middle East and Africa.

The fertilization effect occurs where elevated CO2 enables a leaf during photosynthesis, the process by which green plants convert sunlight into sugar, to extract more carbon from the air or lose less water to the air, or both.

If elevated CO2 causes the water use of individual leaves to drop, plants in arid environments will respond by increasing their total numbers of leaves. These changes in leaf cover can be detected by satellite, particularly in deserts and savannas where the cover is less complete than in wet locations.

"On the face of it, elevated CO2 boosting the foliage in dry country is good news and could assist forestry and agriculture in such areas; however there will be secondary effects that are likely to influence water availability, the carbon cycle, fire regimes and biodiversity, for example," said CSIRO research scientist Dr. Randall Donohue.

"Ongoing research is required if we are to fully comprehend the potential extent and severity of such secondary effects," he added.

Source: Xinhuanet