The ever changing atmosphere of our planet has caused a lot of shifts in the environment. The changes in seasons to temperatures and even flora and fauna are the result of atmospheric changes. While global warming had been a heated topic of discussion among environmentalist, a new phenomenon has emerged lately that has invoked both curiosity and concern. This discovery is termed as Global Greening.
What is Global Greening?
It might come as a surprise to you just like it did to many others, that their planet is getting greener. This increase in greener space is due to increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. A global assessment conducted revealed a startling image of vast areas of the planet turning greener all due to three major factors; CO2 fertilization effect, increase in the levels of nitrogen due to humans and changes in land use by humans. Apart from heating up the atmosphere, in general, the increasing level carbon dioxide that is food for plants; is resulting in plants that were already green to become greener.
(Image Courtesy; The Global Warming Policy Foundation)
Effect on land
Plants are growing greener day by day, which is starting to show its effects on local regions as well. Some of the places are becoming slightly warmer whereas others are getting cooler. The areas that remained more tepid are seeing a change due to more leaf cover which causes more plant transpiration or in other terms water evaporation that condenses the air. Of course, places that were cooler are seeing the opposite effect and are getting considerably warmer as less sunlight gets reflected back.
(Image Courtesy: Wikipedia)
Carbon dioxide is the number one factor for global greening, and its increase in the atmosphere has resulted in this new environmental change, but other factors have contributed to it as well. Nitrogen is a primary component of fertilizer and hence quickly becomes a part of the natural ecosystem resulting in changes such as greener pigmentation of plants. Human activities are another major contributing factor as a lot of land changes happen due to human settlement.
(Image Courtesy: Physical Geography)
It's effect on plant growth
While plants may be turning greener feeding on the increasing level of carbon dioxide but scientists have mixed response to the question that will the greening be able to soak up much of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Furthermore, the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide can increase plant growth only if plants get other essential nutrients as well. This is somewhat difficult in tropical and subtropical regions which lack an essential nutrient vital for the growth of plants; phosphorus. It makes it quite clear that plant growth cannot solely be contributed or be based on CO2 fertilization. Also, if plant growth increases it by no means signify that carbon storage would go up.
(Image Courtesy: Climate Change and Food Security)
Global Greening might be beneficial for plants, but as far as weather is concerned, it can bring significant changes that are not good. Carbon dioxide traps heat in Earth’s atmosphere and has been rising dangerously majorly due to man created conditions. Burning of gas, oil, coal and the harmful emission has been contributing to it. The impact that this increase in carbon dioxide would result in global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers as well as catastrophic weather changes.
(Image Courtesy: LongBeach)
Global Greening and urbanization
Environmental changes are those that alter the Earth system, and its effects are felt across the globe. The population on the planet is rapidly rising, and most of the settlement is in urban areas. This way of living comes with its lifestyle which in turn leads to increase in resource use and production of waste. To sustain the growing urban population natural resources are used to fullest which affects the biosphere and ushers in a lot of environmental changes. The man has had an old habit of taking too much from nature and not doing anything to preserve it which is a primary reason for such unforeseen changes such as global greening.
(Image Courtesy: The Global Warming Policy Foundation)