OCT 15, 2018 7:55 AM PDT

Plant Growth Stunted by Shorter Winters, Study Finds

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

As climate change rears its ugly head, Winters are getting shorter and the Spring season is kicking off earlier in the year. Plants are responding to these seasonal cycle changes by sprouting earlier in the year to align themselves with the optimal growing period.

Given the role plants play in removing excess carbon from the atmosphere, environmentalists have long thought that this would be a good thing. After all, it seemed like providing plants with an early head start would give them the edge they need to remove larger quantities of carbon from the atmosphere each year.

Image Credit: Pixabay

But does that theory hold any water? Citing a study published this week in the journal Nature, perhaps not.

When plants first sprout, they tap into the soil’s limited food and water supply to grow larger. There’s only so much to go around, and so when plants begin sprouting earlier, they have less to survive on later in the year. As it would seem, this stunts plant growth, preventing them from being as effective as they could be at handling atmospheric carbon.

“Because of climate warming, plants grow earlier and more in spring, but they cannot sustain this until summer and autumn,” explained study lead author Wolfgang Buermann from the University of Augsburg in Germany.

Related: Learn more about the benefits of vertical farming

“That means over the entire year, the effect of warm springs on photosynthesis is small. Plants need water to grow. If plants start growing earlier, they take up water earlier from the soils, and then the water is missing in the drier summer season to sustain the growth.”

The researchers happened across their findings after analyzing vegetation cover depicted in satellite photographs and comparing it with climate and geography records. It was then that they discerned inarguable plant loss in the mid-to-late Summer that endured through the Autumn months.

The alarming findings have implications for existing climate change models because they indicate that plants can’t manage the world’s atmospheric carbon footprint as efficiently as once thought. That said, climate change-induced catastrophes could potentially transpire much sooner than current models predict.

“This changes climate forecasts for the worse,” added study co-author Matthias Forkel from Technische Universität Wien in Austria. “We have to assume that the consequences of global warming will be even more dramatic than previously calculated.”

Related: Tree growth acceleration is more noticeable in urban areas

It’s evident that plants alone don’t have what it takes to clean up our atmosphere, and that humankind will be compelled make some tough changes if we’re to sustain the habitability of our planet.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 04, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
DEC 04, 2019
Is Cannabis Helping America Sleep?
Researchers find cannabis is being used as a sleep-aid in Colorado. Many Americans struggle with sleep disturbances -- some estimates put the percentage at...
DEC 27, 2019
Health & Medicine
DEC 27, 2019
What Does the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Say About Cannabis?
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune explains that Dr. Steven Aks, director of toxicology at Stroger Hospital in Chicago, is foreseeing a surge in what...
JAN 07, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 07, 2020
Baby Penguins Are Often Bullied to Death by Adults
Most people envision penguins as fun, happy-go-lucky birds residing in the Earth’s chilly polar regions, but that’s not always the case. In fac...
JAN 17, 2020
JAN 17, 2020
Eating Walnuts Reduces Risk for Heart Disease
Walnuts may be more than just a tasty snack. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found that they may also promote healthy gut bacteria, wh...
JAN 19, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 19, 2020
Study Reaffirms That An Asteroid Killed the Dinosaurs, Not Volcanoes
Oodles of massive fossils tell stories about the fearsome beasts that once roamed the Earth called dinosaurs. Some were merciless carnivores with jaws mean...
FEB 13, 2020
Earth & The Environment
FEB 13, 2020
Contamination from Industrial Revolution Discovered in Himalayan Glacier
Scientific studies are revealing just how humans have impacted the environment over the past few centuries. Recently, scientists from Ohio State University...
Loading Comments...