Back to search

Linking trees and water. Save forests, or lose the rain

New research "Trees, forests and water: Cool insights for a hot world"  has revealed a multitude of ways in which forests create rain and cool local climates, urging a closer look at forests’ capabilities beyond just climate change mitigation.

In a recent paper, 22 researchers from as many diverse institutions, call for a paradigm shift in the way the international community views forests and trees, from a carbon-centric model to one that recognizes their importance in cross-continental water cycles, as well as at the local scale.

Every day, forests replenish the supply of water vapour in the atmosphere. They draw up water through their roots, and release it from their leaves via transpiration. Along with evaporation from oceans and other water bodies, this is what drives the water cycle and charges the atmosphere with water vapor.

Recent studies "Terrestrial water fluxes dominated by transpiration" have shown that as much as 70 percent of the atmospheric moisture generated over land areas comes from plants (as opposed to evaporation from lakes or rivers) – much more than previously thought.

In addition, new research "Bioprecipitation: a feedback cycle linking Earth history, ecosystem dynamics and land use through biological ice nucleators in the atmosphere" has revealed that forests also play a key role in water vapor actually forming clouds , read "Observational evidence for cloud cover enhancement over western European forests" and then falling as rain.

Another research

"Intermediate tree cover can maximize groundwater recharge in the seasonally dry tropics" has shown that in dry landscapes, trees at some densities can actually increase the availability of water, by assisting with groundwater recharge.

Read more from CIFOR Blog below