You may already know that the Eastern White Pine tree plays a crucial role in helping to combat climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, in its trunk. But would you ever have guessed that the very same compounds in the tree that we associate with its fresh green scent can help cool the climate, too? Researchers have made an interesting discovery that puts the invigorating scent of pine in a whole new light.
A study conducted by the University of Washington found that the gas released by coniferous trees, including Pinus strobus, creates particles that promote cloud formation and reflect sunlight, effectively cooling the local region. The particles released by pine trees, which range in size between 1 and 100 nanometers, can be large enough to seed clouds, creating shade and encouraging rainfall.
That’s a huge benefit in an age when impending climate change effects are expected to result in extended periods of drought. The levels of these scented compounds in the air is expected to increase as global temperatures go up, researchers say.
“It’s thought that as the Earth warms there will be more of these vapors emitted, and some fraction of them will be converted to particles which can potentially shade the Earth’s surface,” says Joel Thornton, one of the study authors. “How effective that is at temperature regulation is still very much an open question.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons