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Crops could reduce Earth's temperature

Friday, January 16, 2009

Crops which reflect light may help reduce the Earth's temperature
Crops which reflect light may help reduce the Earth's temperature

By selecting crops that help reflect the sun's rays more efficiently, North American and European farmers could help reduce the Earth's temperature by almost 1 degree Celsius in summer months.

That's according to a new study from scientists at Bristol University in the UK who say the results could mean an annual cooling of 0.1 degrees Celsius for the entire planet - 20 percent of the total warming since the start of the industrial revolution.

Andy Ridgwell, one of the authors of the study, said farmers should raise crops with high solar reflectivity, refered to as albedo, much in the same way they cultivate crops for high food production value.

"By choosing from among current crop varieties, our best estimate for how much reflectivity might be increased leads us to predict that summer-time temperatures could be reduced by more than 1 degree Celsius throughout much of central North America and mid-latitude Eurasia," said Andy Ridgwell, who authored the study. "Ultimately, further regional cooling of the climate could be made through selective breeding or genetic modification to optimize crop plant albedo."

Scientists estimate that by choosing such crops over the next 100 years, farmers could help reduce CO2 levels by 195 billion tons.

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