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Northern Great Plains ‘greening’ during recent climate change

Plants absorb more carbon, use less water but nitrogen levels decrease POCATELLO – Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing a “greening” in northern latitudes and more carbon dioxide is being absorbed by plants there, according to a new study co-authored by Idaho State University researcher Bruce Finney, that includes the Northern Great Plains of the United States.

“Greening” in this sense means higher plant productivity on the large swaths of grasslands studied, including the plains of Montana. Increased amounts of carbon in the

atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels allowed higher plant photosynthesis while using water more efficiently. This is because the stomata of the plants, a pore on them that opens up to absorb carbon, can be open for a shorter period of time to absorb needed carbon and lose less water to the atmosphere. The greening was dependent on climate change, and was more pronounced in the warmest and driest areas.

“Carbon Dioxide, plus water equals plant material and oxygen. That is the equation of photosynthesis,” said Finney, who is a professor of biological sciences and geosciences at ISU who worked with researchers at Montana State University and the University of Wisconsin. “So with more carbon […]

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