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Sugarcane helps cool climate: Research

Washington DC, US  

Sugarcane is not only a major source for producing a biofuel alternative to gasoline, it also helps in cooling the climate if cultivated in a massive scale, finds a new study.

Scientists from the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology found the important agro-industrial plants help lower the temperature of the surrounding air by reflecting sunlight back into space and “exhaling” cooler water. The research, published online in the journal Nature Climate Change, quantifies the direct effects on the climate from sugarcane expansion in areas of existing crop and pastureland of the Cerrado region in Brazil.

For their study, the researchers used data from hundreds of satellite images over 1.9 million sq km. They measured temperature, reflectivity (also called albedo), and evapotranspiration — the water loss from the soil and from plants as they exhale water vapour.

Scott Loarie, who led the research , said: “We found that shifting from natural vegetation to crops or pasture results in local warming because the plants give off less beneficial water. But sugarcane is more reflective and gives off more water — much like the natural vegetation.”

Source: The Times of India