Winds and changing climate converted parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Texas into a giant ’dust bowl’ in the 1930s. In response, the 1937 ’Shelterbelt Project’ involved the planting of trees to reduce erosion and provide relief from the biting winds that blew soil from farms and drove people west to California. Now, almost 75 years later, NASA scientists have found that planting trees also can significantly reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Tree planting and insect control could greatly affect Earth’s greenhouse gases – those gases in the atmosphere that warm the planet – according to NASA scientists who presented their findings this December during the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in San Francisco.
“Planting trees on marginal agricultural lands could ’sequester’ carbon and offset at least one-fifth of the annual fossil fuel emission of carbon in the United States,” said Christopher Potter, a scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. “Scientists also have found that outbreaks of plant-eating insects may be linked with periodic droughts and heat waves in North America, which can trigger large seasonal losses of carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere.” Potter added.
John Bluck | EurekAlert!
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