Tropical forests have big climate benefits beyond carbon storage

Freda Kreier in Nature:

Tropical forests have a crucial role in cooling Earth’s surface by extracting carbon dioxide from the air. But only two-thirds of their cooling power comes from their ability to suck in CO2 and store it, according to a study1. The other one-third comes from their ability to create clouds, humidify the air and release cooling chemicals.

This is a larger contribution than expected for these ‘biophysical effects’ says Bronson Griscom, a forest climate scientist at the non-profit environmental organization Conservation International, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. “For a while now, we’ve assumed that carbon dioxide alone is telling us essentially all we need to know about forest–climate interactions,” he says. But this study confirms that tropical forests have other significant ways of plugging into the climate system, he says.

More here.