|This barren savannah could soon be a green forest|
Great news for Africa: Forget all the tree planting, global warming will turn the continent´s barren savannahs into green forests, according to a new German study, published in the journal Nature:
New research from researchers based at two German research institutes predicts that large parts of Africa's savannahs may well be forests by the time the year 2100 comes round.
Writing in the journal Nature, Steven Higgins from the Goethe University Frankfurt and Simon Scheiter from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) in Frankfurt suggest that fertilisation by atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is leading to major increases in tree cover throughout Africa.
Grasses and trees differ fundamentally in their response to temperature, CO2 supply and fire, and continually struggle for dominance in savannahs.
Previously, these shifts in dominance have taken place over long periods of time, but the current wave of atmospheric changes has sped up rates of change. Once a critical threshold of CO2 concentration is exceeded, savannahs become less grassy and more forest-like. However, each savannah has its own critical threshold which means that each savannah will make the switch at different times. This helps reduce the risk of a simultaneous and dramatic change emanating from the savannahs.
The new findings should of course apply to other savannah type areas in the world as well, which makes a warmer future all the more welcome!