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Global Warming: A New Piece of the Puzzle

Newswise - A climatologist has found that the kinds of plants growingin a specific area can significantly affect the extremeweather caused by global warming. Global warming doesn'tsimply cause warmer weather; it causes weather extremes,including storms, floods, and even freezes. These can varysubstantially in frequency and severity depending on how thelocal vegetation responds to global warming.

Noah S. Diffenbaugh has done what seems to be the firststudy about how vegetation influences climate change. Whileclimate scientists have theorized that this relationshipexists, this study gives proof that interactions among land,air and sunlight are more complex than we imagined in the past.

"Earth's climate is all about relationships, and this studyshows that ground cover plays a significant part indetermining changes in climate extremes," says Diffenbaugh."We are accustomed to hearing that greenhouse gases affectclimate, but they are not the only factor we should consider.

"People have suspected for some time that the greenhouseeffect can change how often extreme events occur and howsevere they are. We also know that climate change willaffect what vegetation grows where?This is the first insightwe've had into whether those vegetation changes will alsochange the frequency and magnitude of extreme temperatureand precipitation events, such as droughts and severe storms."

Diffenbaugh primarily examined California, Oregon, Nevadaand parts of the surrounding region. Associate climatologistLisa C. Sloan estimated the amount of carbon dioxide presentin the atmosphere in the mid-1700s before the IndustrialRevolution, which was 280 parts per million, as comparedwith today's 380, and doubled it to get an idea of what theregion's weather will be like if CO2 levels continue torise. Diffenbaugh added the effect of plants on the region'sweather.

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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