Reforestation cools the eastern US

Reforestation of the southeastern US over the past century has had a cooling effect that helps to explain a lack of regional warming in recent times.

A report from Advancing Earth And Space Sciences in the US has concluded restoring and preserving the world’s forests promises natural pathways to mitigate some aspects of climate change. Researchers have found the return of tree cover in the southeastern US has led to a dramatic curtailing of the soaring temperatures caused by the climate crisis.

The finding is in contrast to warming trends across the rest of North America during the same period.

The study shows forests across much of the eastern United States have a substantial adaptive cooling benefit for surface temperature, and for the first time, demonstrates the benefit extends to near-surface air temperature. It’s thought therefore, that reforestation in temperate zones could mitigate climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while helping with adaptation to rising temperatures by cooling surface and air temperatures over large areas.

Mallory Barnes, an environmental scientist at Indiana University who led the research, collated data from satellites and weather stations located across the eastern US from 1900 to 2000, and found reforested areas have provided this cooling impact on a grand scale, with most of this effect occurring within 400 metres of the trees.

Read the detailed report and analysis at agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com.

Image: AGU
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