Chinese Research: Forests, Weather, and Eco-Restoration

This is a critical aspect of the climate-ecosystem relationship that receives very little attention. There is much more to the equation than carbon sequestration/release: forests (& vegetative ecosystems in general) have direct impacts on temperature, humidity, wind, and precipitation. Eco-restoration is vital to both surviving and mitigating anthropogenic climate change!

ASW

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” … could lead to an increase in precipitation by up to 20 percent …”

“The results show that, in addition to precipitation and temperature
changes, the project also will improve relative humidity, soil moisture
and reduce prevailing winds and air temperature.”
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Public release date: 24-Nov-2008
Journal of the American Water Resources Association

Contact: Sean Wagner
swagner@wiley.com
781-388-8550

Chinese forest project could reduce number of environmental disasters
‘Great Green Wall’ may be a model for worldwide conservation

Beijing, China -November 24, 2008 – A study published in Journal of
the American Water Resources Association states that the “Green Great
Wall,” a forest shelterbelt project in northern China running nearly
parallel to the Great Wall, is likely to improve climatic and
hydrological conditions in the area when completed. The project,
which relies on afforestation (a process that changes land without
dense tree cover into forest), could lead to an increase in
precipitation by up to 20 percent and decrease the temperature in the
area. The findings could have important implications for similar
projects throughout the world.

“Many regions in the world are facing climate-related environmental
disasters such as persistent drought, dust storms and water
shortage,” says Dr. Yongqiang Liu, lead author of the study.
“Furthermore, it is very likely that disasters will become more
severe in the future due to projected climate change in response to
greenhouse effects.”

Many climate models predict an increased occurrence of environmental
disasters in the future because of expected hotter and drier
conditions. A recent study, for example, projects that the dust bowls
in the 1930s could return to the southwestern U.S. as a result of
climate change. Forests have the ability to regulate regional
climate. Afforestation, therefore, may be a useful approach to
mitigate the effects of the environmental disasters and climate
change.

The study used a regional climate model to simulate the potential of
improving regional hydroclimate conditions resulting from the
afforestation project. The results show that, in addition to
precipitation and temperature changes, the project also will improve
relative humidity, soil moisture and reduce prevailing winds and air
temperature.

Forests play an important role in mitigating the effects of
greenhouse gases. While their effect on the carbon cycle has received
the most attention from environmental conservation groups, this study
provides evidence for the importance of water and heat exchange. The
effect of these processes on temperature and precipitation could be
equally important in offsetting greenhouse effects.

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