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Apr 17, 2011

Sugarcane Cools Climate, Study Finds

On 17 April 2011 ScienceDaily reported that scientists had concluded that the expansion of sugarcane plantings into central Brazil was lowering temperatures.  The finding is significant because Brazil is one of the world's largest sugarcane producing nations.  Much of this is being converted to biofuels for automobile fuel. 

The official scientific study was published in Nature Climate Change, 2nd issue, 17 April 2011. Authors include David Lobell (Program for Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University), Gregory Asner and Christopher Field (Carnegie's Department of Global Ecology), and Qiaozhen Mu (University of Montana). Funding was from the Stanford University Global Climate and Energy Project.


The study specifically looked at the expansion of sugarcane in Brazil's cerrado region, an area that had until recently been more traditionally pasture for Brazil's cattle industry. 

Data was gathered from satellite images over 733,000 square miles.  Particular emphasis was placed on studying reflectivity (albedo) and evapotranspiration.  The conclusion was that when the cerrado was converted to pastures/crops, temperature rose approximately 2.79 °F (1.55 °C).  Converting the cerrado lands to sugarcane lowered the temperature by 1.67 °F (0.93°C).


The significance of the report is that "it's a potential win-win for the climate -- using sugarcane to power vehicles reduces carbon emissions, while growing it lowers the local air temperature."

For more see: Sugarcane Cools Climate, Study Finds, Science Daily, 17 April 2011.


Photo credit: Stanford News citing Mariordo/Creative Commons

About Margaret


CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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