Benefits seen in sun-reflecting crops

British researchers say farmers could help produce cooler temperatures and limit global warming by growing crop varieties that reflect more sunlight into space, Reuters reported, citing a study in the journal Current Biology. Potentially, the strategy could cool much of northern Asia, Europe and North America by up to one degree Celsius during the summer growing season.


Such a reduction, researchers at the University of Bristol said, would be sufficient to make a difference in easing heatwaves and drought. Their findings, calculated by using a global climate model, would translate into a 20% reduction in a predicted five-degree Celsius temperature rise for the region by the end of the century.


Previous research has shown that wheat, maize, barley and sorghum reflect solar energy differently. Because the same likely holds true of all food crops, the new findings point to a strategy that could ease global warming, the study’s lead scientist, Andy Ridgwell, told Reuters. “You could use selective breeding for climate characteristics,” he said. “This seems very do-able without spending lots of money.”


The potential reduction would be equivalent to a yearly global cooling of more than 0.1 degree Celsius – about one-fifth of the 0.6-degree increase since the industrial revolution in Europe.


See full story