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Plants may run out of time to grow under ongoing climate change

ScienceDaily (June 10, 2015)

Plants may run out of time to grow under ongoing climate change

ScienceDaily (June 10, 2015)

The causes and consequences of global warming are still under debate, but what would actually happen to all the plants, essential to many aspects of our lives, if the climate in the planet does get warmer ?

A key potential ’benefit’ of global warming that has been considered is that plants at northern latitudes will thrive in a warmer world. However, this prevailing assumption ignores the fact that plants in the North will remain limited by solar radiation, curbing the positive effects of warming and additional CO2 availability. In addition, that same warming could surpass plant temperature tolerances in tropical areas around the world, and further be accompanied by drought.

The new study shows that ongoing climate change will lead to overall declines in plant growing days by 2100 due to a mixture of warming, drought, and limited solar radiation.

Using satellite-derived data, the study identified the ranges of temperatures, soil moisture (water availability) and light (solar radiation) within which 95% of the world’s plant growth occurs today. The researchers then used climate projections to count the number of days in a year that will fall within these suitable climate ranges for plant growth in the future.

Although the study did find that warming trends will increase the number of days above freezing at higher latitudes by 7%, these same locations will remain limited by light, a trend that has been missed by previous studies that focused on temperature alone.

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