Measuring the impact of greening the desert

The intense heat of the Arabian Peninsula makes people susceptible to heat stress. Greening the desert may be the solution. As temperatures continue to rise, effective climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies are urgently needed in the region.

It also affects the economy and the environment. Temperatures in the region are already high, and are expected to continue rising in the coming decades.

One promising approach is desert greening, which has been shown to alter the surface climate in some areas. As KAUST climatologist Matteo Zampieri explains, it is important to monitor the impact of vegetation cover on surface temperature.

"As vegetation absorbs more solar energy compared to the desert, it reduces the reflectivity (albedo) of the Earth's surface. This in turn increases the temperature of the Earth's surface in areas limited by water. Therefore, the balance between increased evapotranspiration and reduced albedo compared to bare soil determines the outcome of greening efforts."He said.

"Results may vary depending on the amount of water available to the plant, as well as the specific physiological processes of drought-adapted plant species. While some desert greening phenomena can cause the surface to cool, others actually warm it”Warns Zampieri.

Study method for desert greening

To study the impact of planted vegetative cover, researchers used satellite data to compare surface temperature differences between cropland and bare land at five representative sites in Saudi Arabia's main agricultural region.

They also used an area in Al-Qirw where vegetation was maintained by a central irrigation system. They analyzed data in Al-Qirw, where the temperature difference between vegetated soil and bare soil was independent of the altitude difference.

Satellite data is used to create daily statistics showing average temperature changes in green areas and the impact of planted vegetables on temperature changes.

The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is used as an index of the presence and intensity of vegetation and land surface temperature (LST) during the day and night to evaluate the impact of vegetation on the climate of the region. surface.

Results of greening the desert

In Al-Qirw, the average annual LST varied significantly between farmland and open lands. From 2010 to 2017, daytime temperatures in vegetated areas were about 4 degrees Celsius lower than on the surrounding bare land.

On hot days, plant species provide an additional cooling effect. These results are consistent with an increase in NDVI in vegetated areas. After 2017, the NDVI suddenly decreased and the cooling effect on Al-Qirw disappeared, possibly due to sustainable water management.

Ibrahim Hoteit, head of the KAUST research team, said this study confirms other evidence that effective plant planting and water management practices help mitigate high temperatures in arid regions.

"Our research shows that managed vegetation plays an important role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, especially heat waves", said.

"SHowever, it also highlights the importance of resilience factors, since clearing vegetation could reduce the cooling effect and accelerate local warming trends."he warned.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies are essential to address the problem of extreme heat in the Arabian Peninsula.

With information of: