SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian scientists have found the Earth may be more resilient to global warming than first thought, and they say a warmer world means a wetter planet, encouraging more plants to grow and soak up greenhouse gases.
"The global water cycle has changed in response to greenhouse emissions," almost 100 Australian greenhouse scientists said in an annual statement on their research received on Wednesday.
"As the world warms it is, on average, getting wetter," said the scientists, who met recently under the banner of Australia's Cooperative Research Center for Greenhouse Accounting.
A wetter and cloudier world would see more plants and more photosynthesis to counter greenhouse gases and also mean less evaporation as less solar radiation reaches the Earth.
"Contrary to widespread expectations, potential evaporation from the soil and land-based water bodies like lakes is decreasing in most places," the scientists said.
An increase in trees and shrubs in the world's grasslands in recent decades was a major counter to greenhouse gases, they said.
"Forests, farms and grasslands across the world absorb significant volumes of greenhouse gases. They have the potential to absorb more, ameliorating climate change.
"Properly managed, they could buy time for the world's people to make the major reductions in greenhouse emissions from power generation, industry and transport that will be required to reduce the damage from climate change."