Scientists have found that forests not only trap carbon but also generate cloud cover that cools the planet. Without their influence, the temperature on the planet would be 15% higher.
The researchers noted that forests play a key role in climate mitigation by absorbing carbon in the atmosphere. They also create a cooling effect by increasing the volume of low clouds. Scientists have confirmed this thesis using satellite observations. The study found that in two-thirds of the world, tree plantations increase the number of low clouds, with this effect being most pronounced in evergreen needle forests.
“Earth observations are increasingly showing that trees and forests affect the climate, affecting the biophysical properties of the planet’s surface,” – said one of the co-authors of the study, Alessandro Cescatti. The paper describes how cloud cover generally increased throughout the year in temperate, tropical, and arid regions. This reduced the temperature, sometimes up to 15%.
However, during winter and spring in North America, Russia, and Eastern Europe, when snow cover increases in these regions, the authors found a decrease in cloudiness over forests compared to other areas. On the other hand, summer is characterized by a strong and consistent increase in the proportion of clouds of about 5%.
“Without global observations of cloudiness and soil cover type from satellites, this study would not be possible on a global scale. The authors of this study praised the high spatial resolution of the products of the initiative, ”the scientists note.
The team emphasizes that climate mitigation on land through reforestation should not be viewed solely in terms of carbon sequestration. Instead, government policies should include the broader climatic benefits of forests, including increased cloud cover for local cooling and precipitation generation.