Thirsty future ahead as climate change explodes plant growth
Rising CO2 levels and a warmer earth means plants will grow bigger and have longer to suck the land dry. That’s bad news for human water supplies.
By the end of the century plants could consume substantially more water, leaving less for people across North America, Europe, and Central Asia—even if it rains and snows more, a new study reports today in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Plants are the primary regulators of the water cycle, responsible for 60 percent of the flow of water from the land to the atmosphere. Research now shows how climate change is altering this vital cycle in several different ways.
“Plants are like the atmosphere’s straw, dominating how water flows from the land to the atmosphere,” says climate geographer Justin Mankin of Dartmouth College and lead author of the study.
Without massive reductions in carbon dioxide emissions in the coming decades, the