Scientists Stunned…Globe’s Semi-Arid Zones Underestimated, Turning Greener With More Vegetation!

Settled science becomes unsettled again.

The online Swiss Berner Zeitung here has an article reporting on how scientists have underestimated the role on climate that the globe’s semi-arid regions are playing. According to the report, climate change has lead to the Nullarbor Plain of southern Australia to be the greenest it has ever been in 30 years.


CO2 is greening up the Nullarbor Plain of southern Australia. Photo credit:  Yewenyi. the GNU Free Documentation License.

Not only is the greening up surprising the scientists, all the new vegetation is also absorbing huge quantities of CO2 from the air…something the models forgot to account for. The article in the Berner Zeitung cites a study recently appearing in journal Nature.

Scientists have noticed that the man-made share of atmospheric CO2 has remained constant recently despite increasing emissions. As a reaction to man-made CO2, the planet has been greening up. The Berner Zeitung writes: “Possible reason: The higher CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and an additional take-up in atmospheric nitrogen have boosted plant growth.”

The Berner Zeitung describes how scientists once initially believed tropical rainforests would do most of the CO2 absorption, and are now surprised to see that semi-arid lands are are “playing a more important role”, one the never anticipated.

Time to go back and fix the models again.

Berner Zeitung writes:

2011 was extreme: 51 percent of the global CO2 intake on land was by vegetation on semi-arid deserts in three regions in the southern hemisphere. […]

…Since 1981 vegetation coverage in Australia has grown by 6%.”

Other recent studies based on satellite imagery and on-site observations show that the same is true in the African Sahara, which is adding thousands of square kilometers of vegetation every year.

At the end of the report the Berner Zeitung frets that the greening of semi-arid regions may in the end just be harboring a danger because such semi-arid areas are highly prone to bush fires and so the CO2 will wind up back in the air. The Berner Zeitung concludes:

The scientists believe that this hazard will probably increase in the future.”

Just goes to show: No matter what the planets does, pessimism and gloom always win in climate science and media!


16 responses to “Scientists Stunned…Globe’s Semi-Arid Zones Underestimated, Turning Greener With More Vegetation!”

  1. Ric Werme

    This is news? There have been at least a couple articles in WUWT about more CO2 leading to less open time for stomata and less water vapor loss. Hence better drought resistance.

    I guess it’s easier to stun scientists than I thought.

    1. DirkH

      The scientific lag time should be on the order of the duration of a grant or funded project. Which can easily be 2 years.

  2. Ed Caryl

    “because such semi-arid areas are highly prone to bush fires and so the CO2 will wind up back in the air.”
    Well, not exactly. First, only a small percentage burn at one time. Second, the remainder, and the burned area as it regrows, then takes up the CO2 even faster. Third, the plant roots don’t generally burn, and some material remains behind as charcoal, sequestering carbon in the ground. The global greening data also includes bush fire areas and do not indicate the above described effect. Details, details.

  3. handjive
    1. Pethefin

      Priceless! They actually consider using chemicals to fight greening of the desert. That CO2 truly is grave danger to humanity.

    2. DirkH

      The humanity! Even that environmentalist woman near the end sounds SANE compared to the CBC. Is the CBC even allowed to destroy the market for Onion-type reporting given they’re publically funded?

  4. Graeme No.3

    Eucla BoM station (southern edge of the Nullarbor, on coast).

    1951 -1980 Average annual rainfall 271.5 mm — days with >1 mm 49.5
    1981-2010 average annual rainfall 320.1 mm — days with >1 mm 55.8

    1981 was nearly the end of a drought. Extra rain would have helped, but photo is better than bare red dirt.

  5. John F. Hultquist

    Say the word. Spell the word. Say the word again. Use the word in a sentence. It will be yours forever.

    I live in a semi-arid area (~215 mm precip per year) with hot summers and cold winters. It is in the Northern Hemisphere and on an ancient alluvial fan just about 670 m. elevation. Nearby hills have a Ponderosa Pine forest – nice tree adapted to dry conditions and fire.
    I 100% agree with Ed at 18:46. Do an image search for “Table Mountain Fire” – we were on evacuation alert, packed and ready to go.
    The problem for me is the relentless growth of the vegetation from the riparian zone invading the pasture and trying to cover the house. Climate scientists need to get out more.

    1. Ed Caryl

      John, I grew up in Trout Lake, Klickitat County.

      1. John F. Hultquist

        I’ve worked on a few trails down that way – new trail in Beacon Rock State Park; Falls Creek Trail north of Carson; and the first mile of Dog Mountain. Ex-USFS folks live near us and they were at Trout Lake a long while and still go back and visit.

  6. Manfred

    The greening of the planet has been going on for decades.

    It sounds strange that it should only now outweigh human CO2 emissions.

    Another explanation would be that CO2 attribution in the atmosphere has been incorrect, and some of the CO2 attributed to man was just outgassing of the warming oceans. And oceans refused to warm further in recent years.

  7. mwhite

    Until the end of the holocene optimum the Sahara desert didn’t exist.

    Seems a warmer world leads to an African Monsoon.

    1. Ed Caryl

      It’s a Milancovich cycle thing. We are just at the bottom, beginning a new swing back to pluvial, but it will take another 5000 years to get there.

  8. En grönare värld! - Stockholmsinitiativet - Klimatupplysningen

    […] gärna talar om vilken värld vi ska lämna efter oss till våra barn. Jag har efter att här och här ha läst om hur ökad koldioxidhalt får öknarna att bli allt grönare kommit fram till […]

  9. Sam

    What does it take to become a scientist? I learned in elementary school that Co2 drives plant growth and that you should talk a lot with your plants at home to make them grow better …

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