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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Too warm leaves to carry out the process of photosynthesis. An alarming report from scientists

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Photosynthesis is a process that occurs mainly in the leaves of trees. Thanks to it, a high level of oxygen is maintained in the Earth’s atmosphere. Recent research by an international team of scientists shows that some leaves of trees growing in tropical forests are so hot that photosynthesis does not take place in them.

The leaves’ ability to photosynthesize – the process by which they produce energy and oxygen from carbon dioxide, sunlight and water – starts to fail when their temperature reaches around 46.7 degrees Celsius. A report published Wednesday in Nature shows that the leaves of tropical forest trees warm up more than the surrounding air.

Too high a temperature for photosynthesis

In their study, a group of scientists used air temperature data obtained from satellite sensors placed on the International Space Station. These values ​​were compared with ground-based observations. The scientists climbed into the treetops to mount the sensors on the leaves.

“Instead of looking at average temperatures, we looked at the extremes,” said Christopher Doughty, a professor at Northern Arizona University and author of the report.

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Tropical forests play an important role in absorbing carbon dioxide (Adam Ziemienowicz/PAP/Reuters)Adam Ziemienowicz/PAP/ Reuters

The researchers found that the average temperature of the tree crowns remained at 34 degrees Celsius, but some exceeded 40 degrees. According to the report, currently 0.01 percent of leaves exceed the critical temperature threshold. This is the threshold that prevents photosynthesis from taking place. This can potentially lead to the death of the tree.

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This percentage, although small, may increase as the climate warms. This poses a threat to the tropical forests, which cover about 12 percent of the planet’s surface and are home to more than half of the world’s species. They also play an important role in absorbing and storing carbon dioxide and help regulate the global climate.

If the global average temperature in the world rises more than 4 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels (1850-1900), the number of trees unable to carry out the process of photosynthesis will also increase.

Read also: It hasn’t been this warm in nearly 1,200 years. Scientists have read it from tree rings

‘Almost all life – including humans – depends directly or indirectly on photosynthesis,’ said Kevin Collins, a lecturer at the UK’s Open University, who was not involved in the research.

Climate changeAdam Ziemienowicz/PAP

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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