Global Warming Can Be Slowed Down By Gases From Plants

Global warming can be curbed by gases released naturally from plants, according to a new study. They do this by releasing tiny particles into the atmosphere that help reflect sunlight back into space.

According to research from International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Helsinki, plants release these cooling gases or particles as temperatures rise. These gases help to form clouds and cool down the atmosphere.

"Plants, by reacting to changes in temperature, also moderate these changes," IIASA and Uniersity of Helsinki researcher Pauli Paasonen, who led the study, said in a press release.

The scientists measured concentrations of plant vapors and other particles at 11 different sites around the globe. They found that, as temperatures increased, the plants emitted more vapors, effectively responding to the warming by increasing the cooling effect.

These particles are called biogenic aerosol because they are particulate matter that originates from plants. Plants release gases that, after being oxidized in the atmosphere, tend to stick to other biogenic aerosol particles. These then become larger-sized particles that reflect sunlight and also help form cloud droplets.

However, simply leaving it up to the trees won't help. The scientists found that the effect of the increased plant emissions only counters a mere 1 percent of global warming.

"This does not save us from climate warming," study co-author Pauli Paasonen said in the press release. 

The plant gases can help much more in preserving untouched areas like sections of the Amazon rainforest. In places where there is little to no man-made particles, such as those from car emissions, the effect of the plants could counteract up to 30 percent of climate change.

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