Nav: Home

New insight into climate impacts of deforestation

January 11, 2018

Deforestation is likely to warm the climate even more than originally thought, scientists warn.

An international team of scientists, led by the University of Leeds, studied the way that reactive gases emitted by trees and vegetation affect the climate.

Their research, published today in Nature Communications, found these reactive gases cool our climate, meaning deforestation would lead to higher temperatures than previously anticipated as less of the gases would be created.

Study lead author Dr Catherine Scott, from the School of Earth and Environment said: "Most previous assessments on the climate impacts of deforestation have focused on the amount of carbon dioxide that would be emitted, or changes to the way the land-surface exchanges energy and water with the atmosphere.

"But as well as taking in carbon dioxide and giving out oxygen, trees emit other gases that take part in complicated chemical reactions in the atmosphere and there are implications for reducing these gases."

The team assessed the complex ways in which reactive gases emitted by forests can impact our climate.

Once in the air, gases emitted by forests react with other atmospheric chemicals to form tiny particles. These particles can reflect sunlight back to space, cooling the climate.

But the reactive gases emitted by trees can also increase the amounts of ozone and methane, both greenhouse gases which have warming effects on the climate.

The team used a complex computer model, developed at the University of Leeds, to calculate these different warming and cooling effects.

Study co-author, Dominick Spracklen, Professor of Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions: "Scientists have known for a long time that trees emit reactive gases to the atmosphere. But the impact these gases have on the climate has until now not been as widely studied as the effects of carbon dioxide emissions.

"By understanding these complex effects we now know more about how forests are affecting our climate, and we are able to see a clearer picture of the repercussions of deforestation."

"We found that the cooling impacts of these gases outweigh the warming impacts, meaning that reactive gases given out by forests have an overall cooling effect on our climate."

Dr Scott added, "The warming and cooling effects of these gases are most closely balanced in the tropics, which is where most deforestation is occurring - suggesting that we really need to understand more about the strength of these impacts"
-end-
Further information

The research paper, Impact on short-lived climate forcers increases projected warming due to deforestation is published in Nature Communications 11 January 2018. (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02412-4)

For additional information and to request interviews please contact Anna Harrison, Press Officer at the University of Leeds, on +44 (0)113 34 34196 or a.harrison@leeds.ac.uk

University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, with more than 33,000 students from more than 150 different countries, and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities.

We are a top ten university for research and impact power in the UK, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and are in the top 100 for academic reputation in the QS World University Rankings 2018. Additionally, the University was awarded a Gold rating by the Government's Teaching Excellence Framework in 2017, recognising its 'consistently outstanding' teaching and learning provision. Twenty-four of our academics have been awarded National Teaching Fellowships - more than any other institution in England, Northern Ireland and Wales - reflecting the excellence of our teaching. http://www.leeds.ac.uk

University of Leeds

Related Deforestation Articles:

Why are we still failing to stop deforestation?
While national and international efforts to reverse the trend of deforestation have multiplied in recent years, there is still no clear evidence to suggest that these initiatives are actually working.
Stopping deforestation: lessons from Colombia
A study of deforestation in Colombia by researchers from The University of Queensland has revealed some valuable insights which could be used to help slow deforestation in areas around the globe.
Climate may play a bigger role than deforestation in rainforest biodiversity
In a study on small mammal biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest, researchers found that climate may affect biodiversity in rainforests even more than deforestation does.
Study finds deforestation is changing animal communication
Deforestation is changing the way monkeys communicate in their natural habitat, according to a new study.
Geographers find tipping point in deforestation
University of Cincinnati geography researchers have identified a tipping point for deforestation that leads to rapid forest loss.
Amazon deforestation has a significant impact on the local climate in Brazil
The loss of forest cover in the Amazon has a significant impact on the local climate in Brazil, according to a new study.
Coca and conflict: the factors fuelling Colombian deforestation
Deforestation in Colombia has been linked to armed conflict and forests' proximity to coca crops, the plant from which cocaine is derived.
Sexual competition helps horned beetles survive deforestation
A study of how dung beetles survive deforestation in Borneo suggests that species with more competition among males for matings are less likely to go extinct, according to research led by scientists from Queen Mary University of London and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Climate change and deforestation together push tropical species towards extinction
Only 38 per cent of tropical forest is 'wildlife friendly' as a result of deforestation, increasing the likelihood that vulnerable species will go extinct, say scientists.
Roads and deforestation explode in the Congo basin
Logging roads are expanding dramatically in the Congo Basin, leading to catastrophic collapses in animal populations living in the world's second-largest rainforest, according to research co-led by a scientist at James Cook University in Australia.
More Deforestation News and Deforestation Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Processing The Pandemic
Between the pandemic and America's reckoning with racism and police brutality, many of us are anxious, angry, and depressed. This hour, TED Fellow and writer Laurel Braitman helps us process it all.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Invisible Allies
As scientists have been scrambling to find new and better ways to treat covid-19, they've come across some unexpected allies. Invisible and primordial, these protectors have been with us all along. And they just might help us to better weather this viral storm. To kick things off, we travel through time from a homeless shelter to a military hospital, pondering the pandemic-fighting power of the sun. And then, we dive deep into the periodic table to look at how a simple element might actually be a microbe's biggest foe. This episode was reported by Simon Adler and Molly Webster, and produced by Annie McEwen and Pat Walters. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.