back to article Plants will make greenhouse effect flooding worse

New data published by the Met Office's Hadley research centre suggests that flooding will be an even bigger problem than anticipated for our warming planet. And it is plants that are to blame. According to research, published in the journal Nature, plants tend to absorb and so expire less water from the soil when they grow in …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    guess what makes rain clouds

    So if the plants arnt evaporating so much water anymore, then thats less water vapour being added to the atmosphere, so less humidity and thus less rain clouds right ?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the only solution is to cut down all the plants!

    as an aside, don't build on ----ing flood plains you ----s and how about we fix the drains in Britain as they are currently shite. Also how about we fix the water pipes as they do a good job of pissing water into the soil too. O and if you're gonna build flood defences you need to build them at every built up location, not just one, idiots the water needs to go somewhere ¬.¬

    Anon has spoken.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Good lord. Not a day goes by when I don't hear some ridiculous claim attributed to CO2 being made by some unbelievably idiotic excuse for a scientist.

  4. John Imrie

    Cloud formation

    Mainly comes from evapouration from the oceans. As global temperatures rise two interisting things happen.

    1) The water in the oceans expands, causing sea levels to rise and increasing the serface area of the ocean from which evaporation can take place

    2) The rate of evaporation per square meter also rises.

    These two events will increase rainfall.

  5. Eric

    So what this means... we will know the effects of global warming AFTER it's already happened. There seems to be more and more variables all the time that the simulations probably don't take into account. The weather service can barely predict a thunderstorm 3 days out with any accuracy, I don't know how anybody expects we'll be able to predict sweeping global climate changes a century out!

  6. Martin Owens


    Why do I have this picture in my head of a group of plants deciding to help to poor misguided humans? they've obviously done this whole greenhouse/snowball earth thing before so they should know what to do.

  7. Terry Ellis


    ...sort of. If you have less clouds then the more energy reaches the surface, causing increased heating... this may lead to more evaporation. It's a cycle, innit?

  8. John Watts

    guessing what makes rain clouds

    I guess you'd be right.

    Although I always though that most of the rain came from the sea (the whole 70% of the Earth's surface thing and all that).

    I'm sure the difference you're proposing would be like a drop in the oceans. Ho ho (I'm so funny I hurt myself sometimes).

    Of course my considerable expertise was gleaned from a poster on the wall of my GCSE science class 15 years ago so I'm open to correction.

  9. Hein Kruger

    @guess what

    Even if less water evaporates from plants, an increase in average global temperature would most likely lead to more evaporation of ground and sea water, so a decrease in rain clouds seems unlikely.

  10. Pierre Castille

    More is less.

    Plants need to breathe in carbon dioxide, water vapour escapes in the process. If stomata close (because the plant has breathed in sufficient carbon dioxide) then less water vapour will escape.

    Now though we all know that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, not so many appreciated that water vapour is a far more significant greenhouse gas. (Carbon dioxide concentration is <0.04%, water vapour is 0.9% of atmosphere.)

    Clearly our climate models are too simplistic if they neglect the full effect of plants and conveniently neglect water vapour, dust and smoke, ozone and other significant drivers of our climate and weather.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feedback loops

    It rather looks like all the unwanted feedback loops are closing - not surprising really as we can easily see rapid climate change in fossil/geological records. Just a bit of a bastard for those of us around now/next few hundred years :-)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    oxbow lake

    Don't forget the oxbow lake!

  13. b shubin


    the industry lobbyists in the US came up with some good spin in the 1990's to take the wind out of global-warming predictions. they decided to call it "climate change" and not "global warming", to remove the negative loading of the original term.

    unfortunately, they turned out to be entirely correct, and "climate change" looks like a more accurate description.

    storms are more common, sudden and severe. seasonal temperatures are more extreme. droughts, flooding and hurricanes have become more widespread and destructive. this just describes North America, where i've been living for the last 27 years. for example, in Pennsylvania, around Philadelphia, tornadoes occurred once a decade, 27 years ago. now, tornadoes are seasonal there, and occur every year. cloud formations in PA, over the same time frame have changed to resemble those in Arizona (was there for Army training for a while). some of this is quite strange.

    i see the same weather trends in the news in the last 20 years, and on the website (the US gov't Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). the stories on from the Far East and Pacific region paint a similar picture.

    whether we will be able to accurately predict these changes is another matter.

    on the other hand, the argument that we shouldn't pee in our own pool (that is, defile the planet we live on) seems rather obvious to me. until we direct much more funding into space travel research (as opposed to war), and find other worlds we can move to (and a method for all of us to go there), we should probably be somewhat more careful with the only planet we have.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    oh, more water in the ground and more heat. more plants will grow or they will grow bigger. will make up the difference and then some, as long as they are allowed to grow.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    an ounce of understanding is worth a pound of propaganda

    Plants are not the cause of nor the solution to the CO2 problems we are facing.

    Plants do not magically destroy carbon any more than animals magically create it.

    To many schools show the diagram of CO2 flowing from animals to plants and oxygen flowing back from the plant to the animals. When the truth is that the oxygen and the carbon flow back to the animals. Plants give their carbon back when they are burned, eaten or decompose naturally.

    We are having a problem because people are pumping and digging carbon out of the ground where it has been safely removed for many thousands of years and reintroducing it into our atmosphere.

    That problem will never be solved without a plan for hard carbon storage. The massive excess of carbon needs to be taken back out of the cycle that it has disrupted. I don't care if they make industrial diamonds out of it or just press it into bricks and bury it again, but every barrel of oil and every truck load of coal must be accounted for and removed from the environment again.

  16. Wade Burchette

    More rubbish!

    To "b shubin"

    Hurricanes have NOT become more widespread and they are ONLY more destructive because more people live in danger zones and NOT because they are getting stronger. The report that said they were getting stronger and more frequent was vilified by every respectable meteorologists, especially the National Hurricane Center. We only have accurate hurricane data since the late 1970's when weather satellites were launched. That report left that key fact out. Further, that report also left out the very mild 2006 year. But of course, global advocates must leave out key data, because the truth is scary or likely to get funding.

    I'm getting very tired of constant doomsday scenarios about global warming. It happened before and it will happen again. A black eye on Al Gore and his eco-nazis is the undeniable Medieval Warm Period. The only way to get rid of that black mark is to try to make it disappear. And so they make temperature history charts and leave out that period of time. And yet another black eye on Al Gore and his eco-nazis is the fact that other planets in our solar system have experienced warming during the same time frame as earth. Once again, another key fact left out. Just promise me you want keep giving money to these charlatans once the weather starts to shift the other direction. There is more money funding global warming studies than anti-global warming studies.

  17. Iain


    @ b shubin: agree with your peeing analogy (though I prefer "don't shit where you eat") - it's only sensible afterall, for no other reason than it makes a lot of sense to stop plundering nature when we can use alternative energy sources, recycle and stop shoving mountains of waste into landfill.

    That said, no do-gooding environmentalist tosser is going to convince me that I'm saving the planet from "the greenhouse effect" when it should be patently obvious to even the densest moron that the big hot orangy thing in the sky always has been, and always will be, responsible for the earth's temperature - excluding blips like volcanic explosions/meteor strikes - which in the great universal scheme of things affect our climate for a nanosecond.

    As anon said above - if cretins stop building on flood plains (or if they must, at least have the sense to build houses on stilts), and other cretins stop farming away the hills (where rainfall would otherwise be stored, spongelike), then your some way to solving the problem.

    Oh, and while I'm ranting - a few hundred years ago we were able to grow grapes in the north of England which suggests the average temperature here was way higher than it is now. Armaggedon didn't come then, and it's not going to come now. Not unless Bush decides to go berserk before he leaves office.</ rant>

  18. Charles Hammond

    Water Vapor

    Well if you live on an island like say England/British Isles, then most of the rain probably does come from the oceans. However, if you live in the middle of the United States or inland in China, then it is entirely possible that there may not be that much water vapor. This is very complicated in some inland locations. In some of the larger oceans like the Atlantic and the pacific you may see a circular current flow indicating the general air patterns. So in the North the air may flow West and then in the south the air may flow east. However, the areas like norway and the northsea may have a completely different weather pattern.

    The depth of the sea may have another factory completely. The Mediteranian is not as deep as say the atlantic and may heat up faster.

    Weather is very hard to predict.

    Just look at the pattern of the Jet stream. Often in the center of the US the jetstream will dip down and become stationary for a long time in the summer causeing many storms to go more south of St Louis.

    Very Complicated.

  19. b shubin

    More irony

    thank you, Iain. there is much to that peeing analogy that the rest of the public (like Wade, above) prefers to ignore.

    speaking of Wade, it is worth noting that my posts are not condensed for easy reading. people who do not [1] read the whole post, [2] think of a worthwhile, thoughtful response, and [3] express themselves coherently (without foaming at the mouth), are encouraged to skip posts like mine altogether. any time someone brings up "eco-nazis", i have to wonder whether these crunchy hippies common in the environmentalist movement have initiated a totalitarian regime, killed thousands or millions of people, and this somehow didn't make the news.

    my point was that "global warming", "greenhouse effect", and other pithy sound-bites used to describe the changes observed in our environment, are inadequate and misleading. the best one i have seen is "climate change", because it comes closest to communicating what is happening.

    the climate over large areas of the planet is changing. we should study these changes intensely, to the best of our ability, so that we can adapt more effectively and less painfully, as a species.

    an example of this is the current race to claim the Arctic region. Canada's part of the Northern Passage is projected to be clear of ice within 30 years (possibly much sooner). this will have a noticeable political, economic and social impact on human activity. now is a good time to consider the implications of this change, so we can adjust optimally to this new reality.

    on a somewhat related subject (yes, back to peeing in the pool again), treating our place of residence responsibly is just prudent and logical; it has little to do with environmentalism, and much to do with electricity and sanitation.

  20. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Back to the original point

    I think the effect described is what happens in rain forests: in areas of abundant water vapour plants do not need (deep) roots to extract water (stored) in the soil. So as humidity and rainfall increases you can expect to see an increase in shallow-rooted plants. This won't cause more flooding but might signficantly affect the time it takes for some areas to recover. If flood plains stay waterlogged for any period of time they will encourage the growth of plants that like high humidity, such as willows. Of course, this will all be minor compared to the effects of deforestation, canalisation and road building on and around areas likely to flood.

  21. Sean O'Connor

    My 2008 prediction

    Here's my prediction for next year:

    Whatever the weather is next year (dry, cold, hot, wet, windy, whatever) some "scientist" will come up with an explanation of why it was all caused by CO2 emissions, regardless of whether that contradicts some other "scientist"'s explanations for the year before.

    It's not science if you just come up with excuses after the event. It's science if you can predict what's going to happen next. How many climate "scientists" predicted 2006 would be very warm and dry here and 2007 would be very wet? Any?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Climate Change"

    I was told this term arose when the "eco-nazis" (just for b shubin....;)) realised that 'global warming' was not going to instead they dreamt up 'climate change' so they could blame any weather-related occurrence on us and use it to beat us back to the stone age.

    Thank goodness some people are wise enough to see through their charade.

    And talking of charade....all the Hadley Centre seem to do these days is roll out a "Climate Change Is Real And Will Kill Us All!" story every week or two.

    Hmmm....who pays their bills again?


  23. Scott Swarthout

    "Climate Change" from "Stored Carbon"

    I will not argue that the climate is changing (it does that...a lot) I won't even argue that it may be accelerated by carbon mon- and di- oxide from burning oil, coal, and natural gas (stored from plants and animals long dead).

    I will propose that the earth was obviously very healthy when the organics that formed the carbon reserves were alive. Look at how many plant and animals there were, and the amount of diversity. Given that most of the oil we get are from places that are inhospitable, one could argue that the planet has become impoverished, and maybe we need to bring it back to the way it was. The Sahara used to be a forest, Nevada and Utah (in the US) used to be an inland sea, the Mississippi River used to be a minor ocean. Hell Antarctica used to be a tropical paradise. Is the world coming to an end, or just going back to the way it was?

  24. A. Merkin

    Plant Kingdom Come

    Obviously this is the first stage in the Great Plant Revolt, touched off by the outrageous carnage of the ethanol industry. Very sneaky of them; making it look like our fault by using passive aggression. (By refusing to take up more CO2 and water in a "greenhouse" environment).

    I for one welcome our leafy overlords. Huzzah!

    (No, that's not maple syrup on my waffle, it's, erm... mineral oil, yeah, that's it; I'm a robot! beep-beep!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    your all doomed

    Your all going to die horribly first you'll have frequent

    flooding then you will have water slowly come up the estuaries

    at you then when all that is as bad as it can get it will get very

    cold as you really are very close to the arctic you just get a

    maritime climate to keep you warm thats caused by the ocean

    conveyor which will stop leaving you in the same climate as

    mid Canada pretty harsh you people can go on squawking about how it's all a mistake but it's already started you know it but won't

    admit it your only alternative to moving is death.

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