Brit Liggett

Planting Sugar Cane Can Lower Local Temperature by Almost Two Degrees

by , 04/19/11

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Researchers from the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology have found that planting sugarcane on land previously occupied by other crops will cool the local area. It was found that the plant mimics the ability of natural vegetation to reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere and excrete cool water during the growing process. The study was executed in central Brazil where a lot of sugarcane has been planted for use as a biofuel, and it was found that fields of the sweet stuff had the ability to cool the local temperature by almost two degrees Fahrenheit.


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This research comes with some caveats — as always — mostly touching upon the idea that keeping the land au natural is always the best. The research team, led by Carnegie’s Scott Loarie, released their study with a warning to the human race, “It’s becoming increasingly clear that direct climate effects on local climate from land-use decisions constitute significant impacts that need to be considered core elements of human-caused climate change.” The team found that removing natural vegetation to plant crops warms the local area by almost three degrees Fahrenheit and though turning those crops into sugarcane helps, it doesn’t bring the balance back to normal. The team also warned that this positive benefit would be negated if the crops previously planted on the land in question were moved to virgin areas that had never been farmed before.

We found that shifting from natural vegetation to crops or pasture results in local warming because the plants give off less beneficial water” Loarie said. “But the bamboo-like sugarcane is more reflective and gives off more water — much like the natural vegetation. It’s a potential win-win for the climate — using sugarcane to power vehicles reduces carbon emissions, while growing it lowers the local air temperature.” In addition to feeding our sweet tooth and cooling the air, sugarcane is also a great biofuel provider as harvesting of the crop leaves a lot of highly fibrous plant matter behind that is easily converted into fuel.

Via Science Daily

Lead photo by Mariordo

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