Satellite View of Santa Cruz, Bolivia (May 2003)
This image from the LANDSAT 7 satellite (Enhanced Thematic Mapper instrument) shows the Santa Cruz region, Bolivia, on May 6, 2003.
Credit: NASA LANDSAT 7 ETM+
Satellite View of Santa Cruz, Bolivia (2000)
This image from the LANDSAT 7 satellite (Enhanced Thematic Mapper instrument) shows the Santa Cruz region, Bolivia, in 2000. The forested areas appear reddish-purple, and cleared areas are green and bright red. Credit: NASA LANDSAT 7 ETM+
While croplands may provide more food than forests, they don’t offer much relief from hot tropical climes, a new study finds.
A study of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, which used NASA satellites and computer models, reports that cutting down tropical forests and converting grasslands to crops may inadvertently warm those local areas. According to the research, forest canopies create wind turbulence that cools the air, and native grasslands are better adapted to the tropics than crops, in ways that also have a cooling effect.
Lahouari Bounoua, a researcher at the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park, Md., and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, Md., used a computer model to show that temperatures in January may have warmed on average by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last 25 years, solely because native forests and grasslands in Santa Cruz were replaced with crops. Co-authors in this interdisciplinary study of land cover and climate changes included University of Maryland researcher, Ruth DeFries, NASA GSFC/UMD scientist Marc Imhoff and NASA GSFC researcher Marc Steininger.
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