Climate change: Planting extra trees will boost rainfall across Europe


Planting extra trees to combat climate change across Europe could also increase rainfall, research suggests.

new study found that converting agricultural land to forest would boost summer rains by 7.6% on average.

The researchers also found that adding trees changed rainfall patterns far downwind of the new forests.

The authors believe that extra rain could partially offset the rise in dry conditions expected with climate change.

The findings about increasing rainfall are partly based on observations of existing patterns. But the underlying reasons are less clear - they are probably related to the way the forests interact with cloudy air.

Planting trees has become a major plank of many countries' efforts to tackle climate change all over the world.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the UK is aiming to plant some 30 million new trees every year by 2025.

A number of studies have looked at the range of impacts, both positive and negative, that the boom in planting is likely to bring.

This new paper considers the impact of converting agricultural land across Europe to sustainable forests.

The authors use an observation-based statistical model to estimate how changes to forest cover would impact rainfall across the continent.

The researchers found that if there was a 20% increase in forest, uniformly across Europe, then this would boost local rainfall, especially in winter and with greater impacts felt in coastal regions.

But as well as local rain, the planting of new forests causes impacts downwind. The scientists found that rainfall in these locations was increased particularly in the summer months.

Taking the two impacts together, in what the team describe as a realistic reforestation scenario, they found that precipitation overall went up by 7.6% in the summer.

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