Study gives green light to plants' role in global warming

Apr 29, 2010

Plants remain an effective way of tackling global warming despite emitting small amounts of an important greenhouse gas, a study has shown.

Research led by the University of Edinburgh suggests that plant leaves account for less than one per cent of the Earth's emissions of methane -which is considered to be about 25 times more effective than at global warming.

The results contrast with a previous scientific study which had suggested that plants were responsible for producing large amounts of the greenhouse gas.

The findings confirm that trees are a useful way of offsetting , as their output of small amounts of methane is far outweighed by their capacity to store carbon from the atmosphere in their leaves, wood and bark.

To reach their conclusions, scientists created artificial leaves made from plant pectin and measured the methane produced when the leaves were exposed to .

They combined their results with on the leaf coverage of the Earth's surface, ozone in the atmosphere, cloud cover, temperature, and information on sunshine levels to help work out the amount of methane produced by all plants on Earth.

Their results refine previous studies that had indicated that the quantity of methane produced by plants might have been much higher. Future research will examine from parts of plants other than leaves, and the amount of methane given off by different species of plants in different regions of the Earth.

Dr Andy McLeod, of the University of Edinburgh's School of , said: "Our results show that plant leaves do give rise to some methane, but only a very small amount - this is a welcome result as it allays fears that forestry and agriculture were contributing unduly to global warming."

Explore further: Mediterranean, semi-arid ecosystems prove resistant to climate change

Provided by University of Edinburgh

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CWFlink
1 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2010
Lets see... after years of research, we have now brilliantly discovered that plants consume CO2 and emit O2, and thus work against Global Warming!

And this is news to any of you? Please say NO!

I think city dwellers need to explore the country side a bit more.... it is really green out here! And I mean, "green" as in the color of leaves. Do you know about them? They are sprouting all over the country side this time of year in the northern hemisphere. Really amazing to see. And the more CO2 in the atmosphere, the more green and vibrant they become.

If this is news to you, please return to elementary school for a refresher in general science.