African Savanna Could Turn Into Forest by 2100 as Climate Changes

Wajahat Mahmood/CC BY-SA 2.0

When we think about the coming effects of climate change, this one doesn't top the expected list (at least not for me): New research published in Nature shows that by 2100 large parts of the African savanna could become forests.

The research finds that "a switch from savanna to forest occurs once a critical threshold of CO2 concentration is exceeded, yet each site has its own critical threshold. The implication is that each savanna will switch at different points in time, thereby reducing the risk that a synchronous shock to the earth system will emanate from savannas." (Science Daily)

Something which may seem reassuring report lead author Steven Higgins notes, but is still very very fast on a geologic timescale.

The research itself is pretty wonky, so read it at the summary above, or the original research at the top, but one very interesting practical implication for climate mitigation is raised by the authors.

They identify a belt of land across central Africa where if fires are suppressed it would encourage the transition from savannah to forest, and this would be an ideal places to sequester carbon in the forest, even if this belt of land will move over time.

Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects

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