Forests Impact Climate Change

Washington, DC (June 13, 2008)- In today’s issue of Science, Gordon Bonan of the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) presents the current state of understanding how forests impact global climate. The report says there are roughly 42 million square kilometers of forest on Earth, covering almost a third of the land surface, and those environments play a key role in both mitigating and enhancing global warming. Bonan said, “Forests have been proposed as a possible solution [to mitigate global warming], so it is imperative that we understand fully how forests influence climate.”

Bonan reports that the teeming life of forests, and the physical structures containing them, are in continuous flux with incoming solar energy, the atmosphere, the water cycle and the carbon cycle- in addition to the influences of human activities. The complex relationships both add and subtract from the equations that dictate the warming of the planet.
Bonan said, “In the Amazon, tropical rainforests remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This helps mitigate global warming by lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere. These forests also pump moisture into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. This cools climate and also helps to mitigate global warming. . .We need better understanding of the many influences of forests on climate, both positive and negative feedbacks, and how these will change as climate changes. Then we can begin to identify and understand the potential of forests to mitigate global warming.”
Related Resources:
Science: Forests and Climate Change: Forcings, Feedbacks, and the Climate Benefits of Forests
Terra Daily: If A Tree Falls In The Forest And No One Hears It Does The Climate Change