Monday, June 3, 2013

Carbon Dioxide Greening Deserts

New research links gradual greening of arid areas like Australia’s Outback to increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide.  


Beep, beep! There's more camouflage for sneaky roadrunners and wily coyotes in the deserts thanks to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, a new study finds.

Between 1982 and 2010, leaf cover on plants rose by 11 percent in arid areas, including the southwestern United States, Australia's Outback, the Middle East and some parts of Africa, the study found. The results were published May 15 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The research confirms a long-held suspicion that one of the side effects of global warming will be lusher plant life. Plants pull carbon dioxide from the air — the gas is part of a chemical process called photosynthesis that plants use to make food. More carbon dioxide should lead to an average increase in vegetation across the globe, which studies have found in recent decades. But increased rainfall or changing temperatures could also be responsible for the new growth.
To weed out these bedeviling effects, researchers in Australia looked at

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