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
APR 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 12, 2020
It's Jellyfish Eat Jellyfish Out There...
These Aurelia jellyfish roam the void of the ocean in massive groups, an occurrence that doesn’t happen by acciden ...
APR 14, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
APR 14, 2020
How Deer Antlers Can Teach Us About Cancer Treatment
Deer antlers grow faster than cancerous tumors.
APR 21, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 21, 2020
Male Silverback Gorilla Gets Rejected After Attempt to Impress Female
Silverback gorillas are somewhat renowned for their powerful arms and legs. In many cases, males use their brute strengt ...
APR 29, 2020
Earth & The Environment
APR 29, 2020
Examining Plastic Pollution in Antarctica
While it’s not surprising that plastic pollution is reaching Antarctica, it is undoubtedly alarming considering th ...
APR 30, 2020
Earth & The Environment
APR 30, 2020
New Study Reveals Amount of Microplastics on Seafloor
Microplastics—the often microscopic plastic particles resulting from the breakdown of large plastic items or mater ...
MAY 15, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAY 15, 2020
How breathable are our changing oceans?
A study from researchers at the University of Washington examines the breathability of the California Current, the cool, ...
Loading Comments...