Thursday, April 12, 2007

Deforestation may cause cooling

If you like and admire ;-) three-dimensional climate models coupled to carbon-cycle models, you may want to know that according to one of these models,
as large as 10 Fahrenheit degrees. The results of their analysis indicate that cutting tropical forests may release CO2 and warm up the atmosphere in average, while for most forests that are far enough from the equator, changes of albedo (forests absorb more light) and evaporation (including evaporation from leaves of plants) win and cause a net cooling effect.

The work by Bala et al. is published in a new online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. I would personally recommend people not to accept such results of climate models too abruptly. On the other hand, it seems likely that the existing models overestimate the role of CO2 in driving the temperature, so if the albedo part of these models is more accurate, the qualitative result holds anyway.

To summarize: if you believe climate models and if you think that cooler Earth is better than warmer Earth, selling chainsaws to Russia, Canada, and Sweden is a way to go. You may be able to cool down Earth by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just like animal right activists want to kill baby polar bears, it is plausible that treehuggers who have become fighters against the climate change will advocate destruction of Northern forests. Isn't it ironic? ;-) Well, I happen to be an old-fashioned right-wing environmentalist who finds baby polar bears cute and who has planted a lot of trees in the Bohemian forest, and I would certainly oppose cutting the beautiful Scandinavian forests that I saw a decade ago.

Via JunkScience.

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