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Plant growth has decreased by 59 per cent worldwide since 1999 due to a lack of water in the atmosphere, a new study suggests.
Experts studied four global climate datasets to try and uncover why vegetation growth has stalled in the past two decades.
Drop - Levels - Water - Vapour - Plants
They found that a drop in levels of water vapour had stopped plants from being able to photosynthesise.
Photosynthesis is used by plants, some bacteria and single-celled organisms to draw energy from sunlight, taking in carbon dioxide and water in the process.
Research - Computer - Models - Climate - Future
The research suggests that computer models of how the climate may behave in the future may not fully capture how plants might respond.
Researchers from Sun Yat-sen University in Zhuhai, China, found that the decline is linked to a vapour pressure deficit (VPD) in the atmosphere.
VPD - Difference - Pressure - Water - Vapour
VPD is the difference between the pressure that would be exerted by water vapour when the air is fully saturated and the pressure it actually exerts.
This has increased sharply over more than 53 per cent of vegetated areas since the late 1990s.
Deficit - Pores - Surface - Leaves - Carbon
When this deficit increases, the pores on the surface of leaves that taken in carbon dioxide and release water vapour close up,...
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