Monday, July 24, 2017

Rising Carbon Levels Make Plants More Water-Wise #Science #Botany #Environment

Changes in global terrestrial uptake of carbon dioxide, water use efficiency and ecosystem evapotranspiration during 1982-2011.

Land plants are absorbing 17% more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere now than 30 years ago, our research published today shows. Equally extraordinarily, our study also shows that the vegetation is hardly using any extra water to do it, suggesting that global change is causing the world's plants to grow in a more water-efficient way.

Water is the most precious resource needed for plants to grow, and our research suggests that vegetation is becoming much better at using it in a world in which CO₂ levels continue to rise.

The ratio of carbon uptake to water loss by ecosystems is what we call "water use efficiency", and it is one of the most important variables when studying these ecosystems.

Our confirmation of a global trend of increasing water use efficiency is a rare piece of good news when it comes to the consequences of global environmental change. It will strengthen plants' vital role as global carbon sinks, improve food production, and might boost water availability for the well-being of society and the natural world. Rising carbon dioxide is making the world's plants more water-wise

Note:  the remainder of the article focuses on carbon considerations while cautioning the increased carbon uptake by plants isn't going to miraculously change things but there is ecological benefit in it.  The interested student is invited to pursue that but we're going off on a tangent.

The Rockhouse asks how did the plants figure it out so fast.  Evolution works on a much longer time scale so, relatively speaking, they were cooking like Minute Rice.

Note:  rice takes the same time to cook no matter how you prepare it.  We don't know what they do to Minute Rice but we do know we ain't eatin' it.

Zen Yogi:  this isn't new and the plants already knew how to do it

That does seem it, Zen Yogi.  Their genetics must have enough flexibility to change in response to changing carbon levels in the atmosphere.  Throw in some epigenetics to really sound downtown since that permits the genome to dynamically adjust itself during the life of the organism and that's more than the feedback / repression loops we see from traditional DNA process.

Zen Yogi:  the plants must have experienced this previously to have learned it, at least in a genetical context

You're a sharp ursine, Zen Yogi.  You didn't spend all your time hanging around the Zen Temple, did you?

Zen Yogi:  the Temple has no pic-a-nic baskets

We may see those who deny climate change using this evidence to say, "Hey, I told you so.  This has happened before and it will pass."

Zen Yogi:  that thinking assumes all peaks are the same and that's almost never true in anything, especially their beloved stock market.

Excellent, Zen Yogi, but, sadly, your philosophy doesn't seem to be changing lives.

Zen Yogi:  I'm not trying to change lives; I'm just looking for a pic-a-nic basket.

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