03
Feb 2012

Plant Power!

POSTED BY: ARIELANBAR
 
Two new papers this week in Nature – Geoscience highlight the powerful role of plants in shaping the world around us – in one case, literally!
First, in “Paleozoic landscapes shaped by plant evolution, Martin Gibling and Neil Davies argue that the evolution of vascular plants with root systems, beginning around 450 million years ago, changed the way that rivers form channels and meander. It wasn’t until about 250 million years ago that the landscapes we know and love today were firmly established. I can’t help but wonder if further study of the surprisingly Earth-like but plant-free ice landscapes of Titan will provide more insights into “biogeomorphology”.
The second paper extends an old idea: that the spread of vascular plants was also important because it pulled down atmospheric CO2 , irreversibly cooling the climate. The link between plants and climate is not that plants consume CO2 by photosynthesis (although they do), but that plants break down rocks to obtain nutrients, like the elements phosphorous and iron.That break-down process enhances the rate at which

CO2 reacts with rocks, ultimately moving carbon from the atmosphere to sediments in the deep sea. Root systems help plants do this very effectively! In the second paper, “First land plants cooled the Ordovician“, Tim Lenton and colleagues in the UK propose that this mechanism began to affect climate tens of millions of years earlier than generally supposed – as early as about 490 million years ago – when “non-vascular” plants first appeared on land.

Maybe it’s not easy being green, but once a planet goes green there’s no going back!

0 Comments  
Share
 
 
arielanbar Posted by
arielanbar
read more
 
 
Pale Blue.blog
 
RSS Twitter Facebook
paleblue.you posts
Characterizing the “Missing Era” of Prebiotic Evolution
by Sara Imari Walker
Posted on: 13, Apr 2012
Water flows on the surface of Mars.
by Noah Hammond
Posted on: 11, Apr 2012
Found the Higgs… now find the aliens!
by Adi Chopra
Posted on: 4, Apr 2012
View more
post on paleblue.you
  • Astrobiology Magazine Top Story
    PaleBlue.you