One important but uncertain factor in climate research is how all ecosystems can absorb the rising levels of carbon dioxide. Areas covered by grass and grass-like vegetation are particularly important, and cover 29 percent of the earth’s ice-free land surface. In a new study, researchers have investigated 19 different land areas around the world that are exposed to varying amounts of rain and their reactions to increased levels of carbon dioxide.
“The general reaction to higher levels of carbon dioxide was an increase in vegetation of less than ten percent, but there were wide variations,” says the University of Gothenburg’s Louise C. Andresen, one of the researchers behind the study.
The results showed that it was easiest to predict how vegetation would react to carbon dioxide during rainy periods. As the researchers expected, spring rain had a significant effect on grasslands.
“Grasslands with a very wet spring season showed the greatest increase in vegetation with a higher level of carbon dioxide,” she adds.