While many outlets went for a piece in Nature on fossil orchid pollen (see next item), a more interesting and important analysis in the same journal — on plant respiration, plus floods — got fewer nibbles. Researchers at the UK’s Met Office and at Exeter University coupled long-recognized plant behavior in the presence of heightened CO2 with rainfall and runoff models. Surprise — it appears that with more carbon dioxide, plants may not only grow more, but may use less water. More important, this leaves more water in the soil to feed runoff, streams, rivers, and floods.
It all has to do with stomata, the pores in plant leaves by which they take in CO2, but which also are routes for loss of transpired water vapor.
New Scientist Catherine Brahic has rather an impressively complete, succinct summary of the work; Telegraph (UK) Charles Clover says this newly-discovered “biological effect” of CO2 means summer floods, of the sort suffered by Britain and Europe this year, may become more common. (while the wrapping of it into a climate and hydrological model is fresh, the influence of CO2 on stomata and water loss is no new discovery); Daily Mail (UK) David Derbyshire says it’s good news and bad: more floods, but also more water resources than usually feared from a warming world; BBC;
Grist for the Mill: Met Office Press Release;