Bioenergy crops create cooling effect on cultivated areas: Study

What is the news?

According to a study, converting annual crops to perennial bioenergy crops can induce a cooling effect on the areas where they are cultivated.

The study was undertaken to look at the biophysical climate effects of bioenergy crops to fully assess their role in climate mitigation.

What are Bioenergy Crops?

Bioenergy is the energy derived from recently living material such as wood, crops, or animal waste.

Bioenergy crops are defined as any plant material used to produce bioenergy. These crops have the capacity to produce large volumes of biomass, high energy potential and can be grown in marginal soils. 

Some examples of bioenergy crops: Eucalyptus, poplar, willow, miscanthus and switchgrass.

What are the findings of the study?

Currently, cultivation area under bioenergy crops occupies 3.8% ± 0.5% of the global total land area. These crops exert strong regional biophysical effects, leading to a global net change in air temperature of −0.08 °C ~ +0.05 °C.

Researchers have found that the global air temperature decreases by 0.03~0.08 °C with strong regional contrasts and inter-annual variability after 50 years of large-scale bioenergy crop cultivation.

Moreover, researchers also demonstrated the importance of the bioenergy crop type choice. For example, cultivating eucalypt shows generally cooling effects that are more robust than if switchgrass is used as the main bioenergy crop, implying that eucalypt is superior to switchgrass in cooling the lands biophysically.

Further, the magnitude of changes in the biophysical effects also depends on the total Bioenergy crop area under cultivation

Source: This post is based on the article ‘Bioenergy crops create cooling effect on cultivated areas: Study’ published in Down To Earth on 4th Jan 2022.

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