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Century of Tree Planting Stalls the Warming Effects in the Eastern United States, Says Study

in Enviroment 64 views

A century of gradual reforestation across the American East and Southeast has kept the region cooler than it otherwise would have become, a new study shows.

The pioneering study of progress shows how the last 25 years of accelerated reforestation around the world might significantly pay off in the second half of the 21st century.

Using a variety of calculative methods and estimations based on satellite and temperature data from weather stations, the authors determined that forests in the eastern United States cool the land surface by 1.8 – 3.6°F annually compared to nearby grasslands and croplands, with the strongest effect seen in summer, when cooling amounts to 3.6 – 9°F.

The younger the forest, the more this cooling effect was detected, with forest trees between 20 and 40 years old offering the coolest temperatures underneath.

“The reforestation has been remarkable and we have shown this has translated into the surrounding air temperature,” Mallory Barnes, an environmental scientist at Indiana University who led the research, told The Guardian.

“Moving forward, we need to think about tree planting not just as a way to absorb carbon dioxide but also the cooling effects in adapting for climate change, to help cities be resilient against these very hot temperatures.”

The cooling of the land surface affected the air near ground level as well, with a stepwise reduction in heat linked to reductions in near-surface air temps.

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