Fossils of tropical plants have been found on every continent including Antarctica. Tropical plant fossils are identified by their uniform growth rings which are evident in tropical plants due to the lack of seasons (winter) in the tropics. Certain organisms that currently live only in tropical ocean waters have also been found in the Arctic ice cap. It seems that there’s significant evidence to suggest that the world once had a uniform tropical climate.
So how was/is it possible for earth to maintain a uniform tropical climate?
The Biotic Pump theory provides, in my opinion, the most logical explanation of how rainfall, winds, tornadoes and hurricanes originate. It also provides the knowledge for working with nature to restore plant and animal life to deserts, to bring good rainfall to all regions of the world and to eliminate tornadoes, hurricanes and other severe weather patterns. I believe that the insights of the Biotic Pump theory also provides the knowledge to restore our planet’s once uniform tropical climate which would bring the climax of biodiversity and life to every region of the world, not to mention balmy climate all year round and perfect conditions for growing an abundance of fruit.
The Biotic Pump theory is based on empirical data and suggests that an area of forest can transpire more water vapour than and equivalent area of tropical ocean waters can evaporate. The higher the rate of transpiration/evaporation – which feeds water vapour to a volume of air in the atmosphere - the higher the rate of condensation in the volume of air above the forest. Therefore, the higher evaporation rates of forests compared to tropical ocean waters, or any other ocean waters for that matter, mean that the atmosphere above forests have a higher rate of condensation than that above ocean waters. Since condensation of water vapour decreases the pressure in a volume of air as the water moves from gas phase to liquid phase, it implies that the higher rate of condensation over forests results in more severe drops in pressure over forests than over ocean waters. The lower pressure over forests compared to ocean waters means air flows from ocean waters to forests. The water vapour from the ocean waters mixes with water vapour evaporated from forest canopy to condensate in the volume of air ascending above the forest. This feeds the condensation process above forests with some water vapour from ocean waters and some from forests itself. Non-forested land like woodlands and grasslands either attract water vapour from oceans or loose water vapour to oceans depending on the seasonal changes in evaporation rates of ocean waters. The Biotic Pump theory therefore holds that forests attract water vapour from ocean waters by means of the above explained mechanism, i.e. forests/trees bring rain! Not rain brings trees/forests!
The implications of the above is that we can very likely restore forests to desert areas by planting trees which will bring rain and create a better habitat for even more trees until the desert is (once again) a forest. The easiest way would probably be to start by planting more trees in semi-arid regions and woodlands, in the edges between deserts and semi-arid regions and in coastal desert areas where there’s higher degrees of water vapour to sustain the planting of some trees.
The Biotic Pump theory (http://www.bioticregulation.ru/pubs/pubs2.php) also provides a very logical explanation of how hurricanes and tornadoes come to be and if the theory is correct we could not just green deserts and bring rain to arid climates but also eliminate tornadoes and hurricanes by reforesting the earth.
Besides attracting moist air from oceans, forests also affect the temperature in three ways. One way is by reducing the albedo (reflection coefficient) and increasing the absorption (and subsequent radiation of heat) which warms the local area and also moderates the high and low temperatures to make the climate milder. The second way is by providing the means to move excess heat to surrounding cooler areas. A controlled and sustainable supply of water to feed transpiration and evaporation provides such a mechanism. The third way is by means of the insulating effect of water vapour that acts as a blanket over an area to keep heat in.
To explain the first, one needs to consider the albedo of forests/trees, deserts, grasslands, snow/ice caps and tundra. By replacing deserts, grasslands, tundra and snow/ice caps with forests, one can drastically decrease the reflection of solar energy into the atmosphere and instead increase the absorption of solar energy by the darker colours of green leaves, brown bark and black soil to be converted into radiated heat that warms the surrounding area and moderates high and low temperatures. No before we get worried about reforestation adding to the current situation of global “warming”, we have to consider the evaporative cooling effect of trees. This is the second means by which forests/trees affect the temperature and in tropical areas it has been shown that reforestation has a local cooling affect as the evaporative cooling affect is larger than the reduced albedo and increased insulation.
From the above link it seems safe to argue that by reforesting the tropics we cool the local climate and by reforesting the higher latitudes we warm the local climate. My simplified explanation of how the second means of forests affecting the local temperature works, is that water provides the means by which to remove excess heat from the local area and move it to surrounding cooler areas. Trees hold water in the soil and in its roots, trunks and leaves and in a controlled manner releases water vapour into the atmosphere in line with the amount of solar energy hitting the forest canopy. The more solar energy the more evaporation (there is an upper limit to this as the trees stop evaporating when it gets too hot to prevent its dehydration). So the more heat in the local area, the more of it is absorbed by water evaporating through the trees’ leaves. This process removes excess heat from the local area through evaporation and moves it up into the cooler higher altitudes through the pull of lower pressure created by condensation. As a stack of warmer air piles up in the atmosphere above the forest it starts spilling over to surrounding areas once it reaches a point where it require less energy for this warmer air to spill over into surrounding cooler areas than to move further upwards in the local atmosphere. Excess heat is thereby spread to higher and surrounding areas of the atmosphere that are cooler. As the water vapour cools down it condensates and release heat to the surrounding cooler areas to make it warmer.
For the water pump system to work, we require a controlled and sustainable water supply to be present in those areas in which we want to moderate the climate. Forest provides this controlled and sustainable supply of water. In sub-tropical deserts we have excess heat but since there is no sustainable and controlled supply of water (fossil lakes in desert areas are not sustainable as they aren’t replenished unless surrounded by large number of trees to attract and preserve the water source) there is no means by which to move the excess heat to cooler surrounding areas. So the temperatures in such environments are extreme.
One can argue that by reforesting the edges of tundra and snow/ice capped regions we can increase the local temperature (due to reduced albedo being higher than evaporative cooling and insulation) and slowly replace the tundra and snow/ice capped regions of the world with forests as the climate becomes warmer and milder. We can also turn deserts into forests with milder climates.
The third mean by which forests affect the local temperature is by means of the insulating effect of water vapour. Trees provide a controlled and sustainable supply of water vapour to a local area which insulates the local temperature. It is well known that water vapour is the strongest of all greenhouse gases and has a far greater warming affect than carbon-dioxide.
Can forests’ lower albedo, its increased insulation (greenhouse effect) and its improved means to move excess heat to surrounding cooler areas provide the means to restore our once uniform tropical climate? Is it possible that by reforesting the earth (including tundra and snow and ice caps) we can create a balmy climate across the globe which holds more species than the earth currently does? Balmy climates require almost now supply of fuel to moderate the temperatures and are far more favourable for humans and most animals to live in. The only concern is for animals that have adapted to extreme cold and hot climates of snow/ice and deserts. Can these animals adapt back to a climate that hosts the climax of biodiversity and life?
From research on http://www.bioticregulation.ru it seems likely that if there is sustained evaporation across the globe (i.e. entire globe is forested) then at some point a balance would be reached where the rate of condensation over the forest canopy is not high enough to move/suck more air upwards and therefore winds would die down and large scale condensation (rain) would stop as the winds stop supplying the water vapour feeding large scale condensation. A balance would seemingly be reached. From that point there would be no winds, storms or rain. The blanket of water vapour surrounding the earth would provide a constant supply of water to feed all life without the need of rain, winds and storms to balance out imbalances. The climate could therefore, besides being balmy, be very calm and very easy to live in without any need for homes to protect against rains, wind and storms. Oceans would also be much calmer as earth’s climate would be in balance and the need for currents to move excess heat to cooler oceans would be vastly reduced.
Interestingly, there are many myths from many cultures around the world that describe the Great Deluge. Was the Great Deluge maybe the result of the removal of trees in the uniform tropical paradise? As trees were removed the water vapour pump was interrupted and the blanket of mist surrounding the earth came crashing down as rain in some areas? Also, at least one of these Great Deluge myths refers to a rainbow appearing for the first time on the earth. That would mean that it never rained in the period prior to the Great Deluge. Does this tie in with the science of the Biotic Pump theory where a saturation point can be reached where winds and rain cease to exist?
If we all lived on fruit (and to some extent on a plant based diet), it would drastically increase our chances to reforest the globe and reclaim paradise on earth.
Thanks so much for sharing this Roan. This is an interesting theory. I went for a little trip to Scopus, an excellent scientific database of papers published in international journals, and was quite pleased to find out some references on the biotic pump theory, published in recent years.
It is well known that deforestation has a huge impact on the climate. Very recently, I got involved in some research related to monitoring environments (such as forests, the ocean) using satellite data, which I am thrilled about. I find this are of research quite exciting.
Thank you Gosia for suggesting Scopus.
Your involvement in research sounds exciting.