Turns Out Earth Has Its “Skin” Too- Study Says It’s Getting Drier and Lighter Due to Climate Change

Khryss | Published 2017-03-19 02:10
Climate change has been a ringing topic lately. Whether due to natural forces or mankind, we all know that at some point, we will be suffering for its further effects on Earth. While previous study revealed the not-so-good effects of the increased carbon dioxide on agriculture, recent news also showed how the nature is coping up with it. 40 percent of the earth’s land surface is made up of drylands. The living skin of these, called biological soil crusts or biocrusts, is made up of a community of mosses, lichens and/or cyanobacteria. According to a new U.S. Geological Survey study, arid and semiarid ecosystems will possibly experience significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns that can affect soil organisms. This will, in certain ways, cause deserts’ “skin” to become lighter in color thus, reflecting more sunlight. USGS scientists tested the biocrusts of the Colorado Plateau (a place exposed to different warming and precipitation factors over time) and measured its albedo (the amount of sunlight that reflects off the earth’s surface). They found that the warming and watering treatments can transform the drylands biocrust from dark to light-colored communities leading to the reflection, instead of the normal absorption, of energy. Not only that- replacement of biocrust mosses and lichens with light-colored cyanobacteria can also increase soil erosion, increase greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, and decrease soil fertility. Whether intentional or not, many human activities harm these biological crusts that could, in turn, bounce back to us. “Our study shows that effects of human activity may not only alter soil stability and fertility, but also the way energy is exchanged between the planet and its atmosphere,” Austin Rutherford, lead author of the new USGS study, said. Climate change is already happening and even the Mother Nature is warning us. If we want this to stop this or atleast make things better, perhaps joining a teenager plant trillion trees could be a step forward! We’d better be really extra cautious if we don’t want to create another Sahara again.
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